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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; 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  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 , 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.

rich diver July 11, 2012 at 02:07 PM
It seems like the past five years the City powers were more interested in developing park space instead of working with developers who wanted to invest in our community. (taxes,income) Weaver park is beautiful but i've never see more then 20 people use it. Property could have been multi use and saved taxpayers $$. Dunedin is a great city but we must let it grow so Business and residents benefit. R,Diver
waltallen July 11, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Notice one item on the city manager's list is 'Improvements at Edgewater Linear Park' The information I've been given is that the city has put $300,000 into next years' budget for an irrigation system for the Linear Park- I believe it will hook into the reclaimed system. If correct, in my opinion that is a huge waste of money. For the last 4 years the city wouldn't spend a nickel on that park. The only difference I see now is that the previously failed developers of the Fenway Hotel are back, hoping to revive that project, and I'm told are seeking a convenient, cheap hookup to the reclaimed system. I am suspicious of this extravagance and who it is intended to benefit and I am against it
Pat Higgins July 11, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Just remember Rich, when the open waters and land next to the water is closed to the public and open to private development and urbanism it's gone forever.
AL July 11, 2012 at 05:12 PM
what happened to the million plus surplus the city had last year? Instead of giving bonuses and decreasing taxes why not use it for payroll?
Mathew J. Eberius July 12, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Unfortunately, city leaders spend in places where they shouldn't and show a complete lack of prioritizing. All we can do is show our support for folks at the polls this fall that will get Dunedin spending under control.

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