The City of St. Petersburg has deceived its citizens again after a nearly year-long campaign to justify another tax hike. They began at the beginning of 2012 complaining that there would be a $13 million “budget shortfall”. The Property Appraiser ultimately revised that down to a level that is likely closer to $5 million. They claim to have cut spending to the bone, but the fact is that spending is at record levels by the city, peaking at $482 million in 2011. They then host a series of faux “citizens workshops” to hear feedback from the community on how to “solve the budget shortfall”. They are bolstered by the big government progressive group “People’s Budget Review” funded by the Unions to offer a false choice of either a new $10 million Fire Fee or property tax hike. The surveys from the People’s Budget review are then held as gospel when in fact they are biased, inaccurate and don’t reveal the demographic make-up of those responding. How many are government employees with union benefits? We may never know.
What is clear is that the entire exercise has been a carefully constructed political charade designed to grab your money.
Cut Spending Now!
Show up at ST Pete City Hall
9/13 & 9/27 6pm
175 5th St. N.
A closer look at the proposed 2012 budget reveals further injustice:
- The city proposes raising $1.95 million in 2013 to transfer back to cover any “Shortfalls” from over spending in 2012. Never mind that the City has a budget and should stick to it and that the current $35 million in reserves fund already there can handle any shortfall without being “replenished”.
- The 2013 calls for a $1 million slush fund for “contingencies”. This is up from about $675,000 in 2012 that must not have been enough for the city’s overspending in 2012!
- As employee numbers have gone down, the actual wages have gone up – an additional $2.5 million for 2013 despite 22.5 fewer employed positions. (This is AFTER the actual cost of wages was nearly $4 million over budget for 2012!).
- A continued $914,000 “Environmental Preservation” reserve fund that has not been touched in years.
- $14.9 million remains in the Weeki Wachee reserve fund that could be used now to pay for park improvements instead of using property tax or fire fee hikes.
- A reserve (“Economic Stability”) fund that grows by nearly $3 million for 2013.
- The City continues to subsidize Tropicana field about $2.4 million per year as wealthy New York Financiers make off with our tax money as their profit.
- Health insurance costs are higher by about $2.7 million for 2013 in addition to the $1.2 million they are over budget for 2012! This despite the claim that self-insuring was going to cut costs!
The list goes on and on. It is clear that the Mayor and the City Council are not serious about cutting spending. They are only serious about executing a hoax of a “budget shortfall” on the citizens of St. Petersburg to justify their latest tax increase. They want more money and power in their hands and less money and power in your hands.
It you want to stop this, you will need to show up at the City Council meeting on 9/13 and say “no more spending!”