St. Pete mayor considering property tax increase

10:41 PM, Jun 13, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG-- The clock is ticking for the city of St. Petersburg to find a way to make up a $10 million projected budget shortfall for next year.

A growing number of residents say they're tired of seeing their services cut, so instead they're asking for a property tax increase.

"I'm one of those people who agrees with the idea of maybe paying a little bit more if that's what it takes to maintain the services," one resident said Wednesday night.

Dozens of people packed the Manhattan Casino for the final of three "budget summits," where residents could sound off on what they wanted.

Mayor Bill Foster is proposing $2 million in cuts, leaving the city with an $8 million dollar hole to fill.

"A challenge. That's the best word," Foster said.

On the table now is an increase that would bring in an extra $4 million for the city. One recent poll indicated 76 percent of residents support it.

"The actual increase to property owners is just pennies per day.  The fact is for now a raise seems to be the smartest card in our deck," one person said Wednesday night.

Foster is also considering a special fire readiness fee for property owners. He says St. Pete can't lose the look, smell, or character the city is known for.

"They love the unique charm. They love the events that we have. They love the fact that it's clean," he explained.

Foster will present an initial budget later this month. There will then be several more public hearings before it's finalized in September.

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