PI0926tsbudget.jpg

The former City Hall building on Pinellas Avenue is one of the historic structures in Tarpon Springs that will renovated with money in the city’s newly approved budget for fiscal 2019, which begins Oct.1.

TARPON SPRINGS – After conducting its budget workshops over the summer, the City Commission unanimously approved the final property tax rate and the final budget for fiscal 2019.

During their Sept. 18 meeting, commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of setting the general fund property tax rate at 5.42 mills for fiscal 2019, which begins Oct. 1. This is a 5.04 percent increase over the city’s rollback general fund property tax rate of 5.1601.

A mill negates one dollar of property tax for each $1,000 of assessed taxable property value.

The rollback rate is the levy that would have generated the same amount of general fund property tax revenue in fiscal 2019 as the city received in the current budget year because of growth of the taxable value of property in the city.

The city will use the extra money it gets from setting the general fund rate at 5.42 mills to fund salary and operating expenses, Finance Director Ron Harring said.

Fiscal 2019 will be the third straight year the millage has remained the same, according to Harring.

Following the approval of the millage rate, the commission voted unanimously to adopt the final fiscal 2019 budget, at $57,934,344.

“As Mr. Harring stated, the millage will remain the same as it has been the last three years, and we still have a balanced budget without using any emergency funds,” Mayor Chris Alahouzos said. “I would like to thank everyone on the Budget Advisory Committee for doing an excellent job.”

There was a question from the audience about allocating funds for the preservation of historic structures in town, including the Safford House the old City Hall building on Pinellas Avenue and the Tarpon Springs Heritage Center, which occupies the former Tarpon Springs Public Library building.

In response, Harring said $650,000 had been allocated in this year’s budget to do the renovations on the old City Hall, while improvements to other historic structures like Safford House and the Heritage Center would be addressed by each department.

City Manager Mark LeCouris noted money to repair the Heritage Center roof have been allocated from the city’s share of Penny for Pinellas special sales tax funds. “It’s budgeted and it’s going to be starting very soon,” he said.

The roof repairs are estimated at $480,000, according to Harring.

After the meeting, Alahouzos praised the city’s ability to keep the millage rate the same while once again balancing the budget.

“I’m very proud we’re able to have a balanced budget and keep the millage rate the same three years in a row,” Alahouzos said. In addition to Harring, the mayor thanked City Manager Mark LeCouris, the members of the Budget Advisory Committee and the other City Commissioner members for their work on the budget.