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.