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Council to Vote on Property Tax Hike Tonight

The final hearing for the 2013 budget will be held at 6 p.m. tonight at City Hall.

Two weeks ago, City Council voted to adopt a tentative millage increase to 6.7742 mils. Tonight, the 2013 budget — currently set at $472 million — and millage rate will be up for a final vote. 

The millage rate approved two weeks ago, which was about 12 percent over the rollback rate, was considered a placeholder until it could recalculated for the budget.

Foster and his staff will present the updated budget tonight. They were proposing a fire tax along with a millage increase that would go back to the rollback rate. That means, because of a decrease in property values, that an increase in the property tax rate would generate the same amount of revenues in 2013 as 2012. 

However, at the last meeting, council voted 6-2 to strike down the fire readiness fee. While it was struck down two weeks ago, the fire fee's biggest proponent is hoping to rekindle the fire tax. 

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, council member Jim Kennedy said he would bring back the idea for a fire readiness fee at tonight's meeting. 

"It's just looking forward going down the road," said Kennedy, who voted with council member Bill Dudley to support the fee. "I don't want to see the deconstruction of the city."

"I just think doing it all on millage rate is a mistake," Kennedy said at the Sept. 13 budget hearing. He said that a high millage rate could hurt an already fragile real estate market and could scare away businesses from moving to St. Pete. 

The fire readiness fee, he said, would be a better way to diversify the city's revenue streams while raising money and not scaring off businesses. 

If you wish to speak about the 2013 budget, fire tax or pending millage increase, you can speak during tonight's public hearing. The hearing begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall. 

Dharma September 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM
can i ask a simple question, why is it that in 2012 any body of people is making up laws for all the people ... that includes raising taxes for houses etc... have we not reached the day on the planet in which the actual wish of the people makes as much sense if not more than any council? we are all grown up now. lets see the budget and let it be a vote... not a grouple of people who constantly vote against the people wishes.
S. Ripley September 27, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Here's your answer: No. The waters in which we swim are a representative democracy- where citizens elect leaders to make the specific decisions for us. The down side is there will always be some citizens who don’t agree with their representatives’ choices. The up side is that government can actually function. Were citizens to be involved directly in each an every decision, we would be at permament gridlock, and would likely still be debating what side of the road to drive on. Your best bet is get involved, stay involved, understand as much as you can about our local candidates, and vote.
Red October 02, 2012 at 03:07 PM
So just how much increase will the RAY's pay. .. ... oh yes, it's tax free
cherylwithac October 29, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Excellent answer.

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