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Pinellas EMS Tax Increase is Unnecessary, Bad Public Policy and May Violate State Law.

Come tell the Pinellas County Commission “NO TAX INCREASE”
Tuesday 9/6; 6:30 pm 315 Court Street Clearwater.


The County Administrator Bob Lasala is recommending a $12.3 million tax hike that is unnecessary, bad policy and that may violate state law on reserve funding.  The increase is analyzed below and in the previous post “Pinellas County Funny Tax Math“.  As always, costs appear to go up faster than actual services combined with inflation. This is routinely the case with government programs that offer excessive employee benefits, have large bureaucracies, have no competition and have political overtones with special interests influencing the process.  If you want to avoid a tax increase, you will need to show up at the meeting on Tuesday 9/6 and let your voice be heard.

Of note, the reserves appear to be about 10 x higher than allowed by state law. However, a question has been posed to County Administrator Lasala to clarify that issue.


Tax Increase Breakdown and Reserve Fund Analysis

  • The County proposes to cut EMS costs by 11.1 million in 2012.
  • At the same time they plan to increase EMS property taxes by $12.3 million.
  • The main purpose of the tax increase appears to be to build a reserve fund for future use.
  • The Cuts to EMS costs will be accomplished by decreasing EMS finding to various cities and through a restructuring of local EMS personnel to include County-contracted Sunstar staff on local EMS units that will transport patients.
  • The cost of EMS services has outpaced inflation and number of transports for many years.
  • The projected increases in number of transports (and increased cost) is likely inaccurate based on decreasing county population and past failed predictions of increased transports.
  • The County has a significant expense in administrative services that can be trimmed.
  • The County could allow the City of St. Petersburg to transport patients in that city, saving about $5 million for county taxpayers.  The city would recover most or all of those costs by billing insurance companies for transports as is done by Sunstar now.

  

 

  • The projected reserve fund balances appear out of line with County policy on reserve funds for other areas of the budget. For instance, the General fund has a policy of a minimum of 5% and maximum of 10% of operating expenses for the reserve.
  • The reserve funds proposed appear to FAR exceed these policies. 

Operating Expense for public safety

Proposed 2012 reserve

  • Contingency Reserve
  • Reserve Balance
  • Future  Reserve

 

Proposed 2012
TOTAL Reserve amount

5% (minimum)

10% (maximum)

Actual Percentage proposed in 2012 reserve

$48,364,460

$11,764,200

$6,200,990

$5,998,290

 

$23,963,480

$2,418,223

$ 4,836,446

49.54%

 

Source: Page D-302 of

http://www.pinellascounty.org/budget/12budget/budget/d-co-admin.pdf

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