City Spending, Job Cuts Loom in Budget Talks
"Our prayers are with you and your families," Mayor Dave Eggers said. "It is indeed a challenging time."
Editor's Note: This is the first in a continuing series providing snapshots of how fiscal challenges are affecting city government.
Mayor Dave Eggers thanked former city employees for their work Monday before diving into the most restrictive budget in recent history.
It is down $3.8 million from last year; five people lost a city paycheck because of cuts.
"Our prayers are with you and your families," Eggers said. "It is indeed a challenging time."
Several weeks before, City Manager Rob DiSpirito projected a $1.2 million shortfall, but was able to present a balanced budget Monday because of departmental spending and job cuts.
In his opening statement, DiSpirito pointed to economic pain felt across the nation and explained how the downturn has local impacts that affected Dunedin's budget:
- Dunedin's property values dropped further.
- The city saw about $700,000 less in electricity tax revenue because of an unusually mild winter.
- Sales tax revenue decreased because consumer spending is down.
DiSpirito explained some of the guiding concepts behind the budget plan, which included an emphasis on paying back city debt, operating for efficiency and maintaining infrastructure, public safety and quality-of-life amenities.
"All too often, cities, when faced with mulitple years of lost revenue, tend to reduce their support for quality-of-life features, thereby sacrificing some of what made them special, in the interest of funding their infrastructure needs," he said. "Quality-of-life amenities are important ... Besides intrinsic value, these assets have an economic, revenue-generating value as well."
Among the amenities DiSpirito proposes to maintain or add:
- Dunedin Public Library and senior activity services
- City-sponsored community events
- A plan for managing Hammock Park
- Proposed expansion of the fitness center at the Dunedin Community Center
- Improvements at Edgewater Linear Park
- Continued financial contributions to the Dunedin Fine Art Center and the Dunedin Historical Society
- No change in the millage rate
Monday marked the first of three workshops during which city staff from each department is to present its spending plan to the commission.
The commission meets Wednesday, July 11, for the second of three budget workshops at City Hall, 9 a.m. to noon.
In the next installment of "The Budget Sessions," Dunedin Patch will take a look at the positions being cut by the city.