TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa City Council rejected Mayor Jane Castor’s proposed budget and tax hike early Wednesday.
After hours of public comment and discussion, the city council members rejected the mayor’s budget and a proposed tax hike.
A majority of council members said they believe Tampa residents are already in a tough position with the high cost of living and a millage increase would put people in a bigger bind, potentially escalating the affordable housing crisis.
“When we’ve passed increases in the past, special assessments or millage increases, we didn’t have the housing affordability crisis in Tampa, but now it’s just built out so much and you know, I think this is really the wrong time to do it and we shot it down,” Chairman Guido Maniscalco said.
Castor said the 16 percent tax hike was necessary to address road improvements, staffing shortages and emergency response times.
On Wednesday, Mayor Castor expressed disappointment regarding the decision.
“Very disheartening, you know, we have literally, our administration has spent months and months, creating – creating a very, very responsible budget for our city,” Castor said. “My leadership style hasn’t changed. I gather all of your available information, all of the facts, and I make decisions in the best interest of the community. And that is the budget that we presented to council last night.”
Without the tax hike, the city council has to come up with a new spending plan. A workshop will be held next week to figure out where spending cuts can be made and a modified budget will be presented.
“We saw this several mayors ago through the Great Recession, there were significant cuts, but the quality of service wasn’t affected. We’re not seeing that, we’re not looking at massive layoffs, it has nothing to do with that. It is, what is going to be allocated, what is going to be prioritized,” said Maniscalco.
“To continue to defer and delay decade, after decade is where we’re at with the billions of dollars of need,” Castor said.
A budget workshop will be held Sept. 13. During the workshop council will create a spending plan for the city, however, no action will be taken at this meeting.
The next budget public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19. The final adoption of a new budget is expected at this meeting.