St. Petersburg City leaders, the Tampa Bay Times and the “People’s Budget Reivew” have one thing in common: they are all spreading an outright myth about a projected government budget “Shortfall”. They have complained in public that there will be $13 million less to spend next year given a decline in property values. They have organized together in a massive propaganda and activist campaign to raise taxes. They all sob that the City of St. Petersburg has cut the budget to “the bone”. Well, an analysis of the City’s own 2011 financial report reveals two surprising facts. 1) The City has far more annual money than at the beginning of the decade. 2) The city has increased spending nearly every year for the last ten years. In 2011 alone spending was up by about $34 million in the same year that tax revenues held steady. It is clear that the city has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. A detailed analysis is below the call to action. Citizens need to show up at the budget meeting on 5/16 at Roberts Recreation Center to let the city know to cut taxes and fee more, not raise them as they propose.
Come and testify at the next meetings
Tax and Fee hikes for 2011-2012 local government budgets.
Prepared for more? If not, stand up and say no!
Meanwhile, on the home front, libraries, parks, police station construction and basic government services suffer while government employee benefits stay up and paid!
An analysis by Dr. David McKalip, founder of the Sun Beam Times, indicates that total revenues peaked in 2007 at about $497 million and dropped slowly to $448 million in 2010 and was the same in 2011. The $448 million in 2011 revenue was still much higher than total revenue of about $371 million 2001. Total revenue reflect all moneys received by the city including property tax, sales tax, franchise fees, utility taxes, user fees for items like water, sewage, garbage and other revenue from grants. The $13 million “shortfall” comes from the anticipated drop in property value which have been estimated to be about 3-6% according to Property Appraiser Pam Dubov’s interview with the Sun Beam Times. The Revenue figure shows how revenues have remained relatively steady and are still markedly increased since 2001.
Expenses have continued to go up despite the claims from the city that costs have been cut. In 2011 alone, when the city new it had only about $448 million to spend, the city actually spent about $482 million. The city had to draw on reserve funds. It turns out that reserve funds are still relatively large, although a further analysis is required to see how far they may be over the state mandated minimum. The current total net Reserve funds are at about $150 million with about $62 million “restricted” and $17 million “unassigned”.
Clearly the public is not getting the straight story from our city leaders. It is time for the citizens to turn up at the public budget hearings on 5/16 and 6/13 and let them know we are not fooled, we want the straight story and we want tax cuts, not tax increases.