I’ve seen people on social media state the city is over spending or spending excessively. Can you address that?
Well, I don’t discount how anyone feels about spending. All I can tell you is what we did with this budget as well as my own history with city budgets.
So with this budget, we met numerous times and cut our spending each and every time we reviewed it – Including removing raises for our employees.
The General Fund is where your property tax goes. Here’s what we found:
· Yes, there was $931K increase in property values
o $137K of that is new construction so that doesn’t affect today’s homeowner
o $117K for commercial property
o Total residential increase = $677K which equates to an average of $40 per household increase.
· And let’s be clear – that didn’t come from a millage rate increase, it came from improved property values which is a sign of a strong community.
So what does your property tax get spent on?
· 35 percent – public safety (fire/police)
· 27 percent – parks/recreation
· 15 percent – general government
· 8 percent – library
· 6 percent – public works
· 3 percent – planning & development
· 1 percent – miscellaneous
And how do we stack up against other cities in the area?
· Dunedin spends $839 per person
· Safety Harbor spends $901 per person
· Oldsmar spends $1003 per person
· Tarpon Springs spends $1047 per person
· Clearwater spends $1300 per person
So yes, each person got a small increase depending on the size of their property. But compared to other communities, we’ve taken a conservative approach while still maintaining the amenities that attracted you to Dunedin in the first place.
Personally, budgets and economic forecasting was my past professional career. I studied Florida’s economy regularly. I understand that we need to be cautious going forward. I, nor my colleagues have never been a tax and spend bunch. We’ve always been conservative.
As a matter of fact, here are a few numbers you should know since I’ve been on the Commission (which equates to 14 years)
· The General Fund expenses (where your property tax goes) have only increased by 15 percent since I’ve been on the commission – that’s 14 years which equates roughly to an avg of 1 percent a year.
· Our millage rate (the rate you pay your property taxes) is 7 percent less than 14 years ago. Why is that? Because we reduced it 3 times – when values went up so high that we felt that money was better in your pocket than ours.
Our overall track record is strong!
· These are the facts! Political rhetoric aren’t facts.
· And I’d urge you – don’t take my word for it. Do the math yourself. And call my colleagues on the Commission. Find out why they supported the budget. This is just my point of view.