The City of St. Petersburg has decided it just can’t get by without more of your money. So they plan to raise property tax revenues 7.98% for total increase of $6.26 million in cash. In addition, they plan to raise water, sewage a reclaimed water rates by 4.75%, generating an additional $5.3 million. The total increase in taxes and fees to St. Petersburg residents will be $11.56 million. In the process they are wiping out the total $8.57 million estimated (and illusory) “savings” from the phony Greenlight Pinellas tax “swap”.
Come out to St. Petersburg City Hall at 6 pm on Thursday 9/18 at 175 5th St. N. Come a little early to get an early speaking spot and a place to park (free on 2nd Ave). You’ve got three minutes to convince them to not raise your taxes (I’ll join ya’).
Total planned spending by the new Mayor Kriseman in his ever first budget is at a record $483.35 million (as predicted by the Sunbeam Times in January). This record amount of spending for St. Petersburg is no surprise considering the unanimous make up of our City Council by “Progressives” of both political parties and the Mayor. The city has never spent this much in a year. At the end of the year, it would not be a surprise to actually see more spent than planned. The next closest year of spending was $482.69 million in 2011 and it is up from $463.98 million last year.
The city is able to raise property taxes based on an 8% escalation of property values. This is reminiscent of the property tax hikes that began in 2001 through 2007 – all based on escalating property tax values. Then, the city proudly trumpeted the property tax rates they cut while actually increasing the property tax revenues by record amounts. In 2001, property tax collections were $58.3 million and they peaked under Mayor Rick Baker at $101.57 million. Mayor Foster raised the rate between 2012 and 2013 by $12 million total (after dipping $8 million total from 2010-2011). But it looks like Mayor Kriseman will be seeking to start his administration off with a race towards record tax and spending hikes. The city is yet again riding property value growth and not cutting taxes or keeping spending at least level in the process. Our fake gain on paper, is their real gain in cash. Our Cash. This is the sort of behavior that led to the major property tax revolts from 2006-2009. (You know, back when Charlie Crist “Solved it”).
The amount of this total tax and fee hike ($11.56 million) is more than the estimated total amount of property tax paid by St. Petersburg for transit to PSTA. This will further negate the so called “tax swap” of Greenlight (which is really not a swap, but actually 14% total tax rate hike). The city comprises 26.8% of the county’s population, and applying that factor to the $32 million in PSTA Property tax collections, St. Petersburg residents contribute $8.57 million to the PSTA. So any of the false “savings” of the truly imaginary swap by removing PSTA property tax is completely overcome by the $11.56 million tax and fee hike of St. Petersburg.
Those residents who want to try to stop this ultra-liberal gaggle of progressives from hiking our taxes and fees are free to join Dr. David McKalip (Founder and editor of this blog) for annual head bashing against the walls of the St. Pete Council Chambers. Bring your head padding and a stern spine along with a sense of humor. After watching these politicians make excuses about the need for more tax money and the wonderful ways they will help the city you will need the ability to laugh, pray deeply or a good stiff drink. All are available within walking distance of City Hall.