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-- falling property tax revenues have left the city of Tampa Florida with a growing debt load the city's facing a nearly 27 million dollar budget deficit next year but.
There's a plan and when that he hopes will keep the city afloat without cutting jobs.
Joining us now this proposal is Tampa for -- mayor Bob -- mr.
-- were pleased to have you join us this afternoon.
It's good to be here and as a pet owner in in the other two kids that -- I don't wanna have to choose amongst what might -- -- -- -- seeing exactly its worst and so -- choice but.
I got dressed talking about tough choice is.
We're -- some of the toughest cuts you may take up that deficit.
-- -- -- coming this wasn't a pretty process it's no different than what mayors all over the country are going through I mean we've had a reduction of about sixty million dollars over the last seven years.
In property tax revenue and so -- like Tampa.
That's a big number so we've literally went through that budget page by page department by department we push some projects Al.
We refinance some debt we eliminated some unfilled.
Positions it had been vacant for -- that clearly were not mission critical.
But at the end of this we had to tap reserves for about eight million dollars and we were fortunate that we have a healthy fund balance.
But we -- able to put this budget to bed without raising taxes.
Without laying anybody off and being able to pay our police and firemen.
But you did mention is declining revenues so that's got to put.
A lot of pressure on the decision whether or not to.
Issue more debt how how -- weighing that decision.
Well it was the only choice we had.
On the you know we had so -- revenue shortfalls and the only way we can take cash that we had set aside.
Was to finance and -- some debt down the road.
But I sense light at the end of the tunnel I mean I think you are commercial permits are up.
Housing industry is still flat.
But we're seen significant activity on the commercial side.
I think we're gonna have one more bad budget year but I do absolutely sense that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I think -- gonna lead Florida out of this recession.
-- eight you -- look at the nitty gritty of your budget I see that salaries and benefits make -- 281.
Million near budget of about 351.
That's like 80%.
And that is a problem is cities across the country are facing right now do you think that you need to get that ratio down lower.
Well personnel always drives municipal budgets and the vast majority that is in -- police and fire department.
Our police and hard department.
To cost way more than we recouping tax revenues.
But we -- much safer city because of the size of war department.
Over the last -- not just this.
So I'm sorry is he does have a limited amount of time here it -- it -- pension health care costs and you know this is something you've seen in in counties suspension cities especially -- California.
The big wrestled with this problem over time it eventually had to declare bankruptcy you're in a situation.
-- where you worked 46 million dollar short you had to as you said borrow almost.
Nine million dollars from the extra money that you have set aside do you think these are costs that you need to control over the long term.
Oh absolutely and we have taken some steps but I would add that unlike some of the cities out west that you've mentioned.
Where there is a looming pension crisis.
Our pensions are funded one of them is funded at 99%.
And the other is funded at 90% in the reason that is.
Is because we've had a series of mayors that have done what they were supposed to do that they were legally obligated to do not betting on the stock market -- hoping for appreciation.
But making sure that our contributions went to -- pension funds at a 100% so our funds are solid they're stable there's no risk of default.
There's no looming pension crisis for us.
That being said.
Absolutely we've got to get health care cost under control and we we started to do that.
We set up rural clinics and -- we had 7000.
Visits to our clinics by our employees so we're trying to do preventive health care.
And we're wrestling with a whole pension issue as well and we've taken some steps to -- mitigate that.
How are you gearing up the city of Tampa to host a Republican National Convention is this going to be economic boost.
For your city or is it going to be costly because you've got security and other services to provide Howell -- net out there and -- -- -- Democrat -- -- have.
I am -- it's -- certainly is an interesting week for me we estimate that it will be a net positive for us -- -- we're gonna get to tell tale the story.
To the entire world this is our coming out party.
Most of the security costs were funded by the federal government.
The city obviously has some skin in the game.
We estimate the short term capital infusion as result of delegates spending.
And and the the jobs created by this -- eventual won't be about a 150 million dollars.
But the tens of millions of mentions.
An exposure that Tampa will get as a result of this.
We couldn't pay for this if we had to I mean we've -- four Super Bowls and this is significantly larger than that.
We're looking forward to it -- -- democratic mayor I'm gonna be the best Coach they ever had and Tampa's -- -- shot.
And -- -- -- I can't leave without giving my mother -- -- little money she's a very successful real estate new age in your area Martha thorn.
You had a huge real estate boom in your area among the strongest in the country but you have been hit especially hard -- -- you dealing with that I know that's impacting your property tax.
Has as well.
It has significantly in your mother -- -- we'll tell you I mean we've been kicked in the teeth by this recession.
-- -- -- hit probably harder than any state in the country.
I think what it pointed out to us is that you can't have a in the entire economy dependent on a real estate business -- -- we were crack -- for real state.
Yeah we would build subdivisions for people who didn't even exist.
That was a tough lesson learned but I think out of the wreckage of this recession.
Will come -- city -- much better prepared it's economically more diverse.
That is creating value added jobs not just service jobs associated with the building industry.
And I think we're very is truly light at the end of this tunnel and there will be a better -- -- that emerges out of this recession.
All right Mary literally have no time -- -- company your budget's going to pass.
I sure groups that we don't have a choice we can't kick the -- emirate I we're gonna catch up with you again thank you so much about quite a Tampa Florida good luck with the RNC convention beautiful city.
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