TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — After weeks of crunching numbers, Tampa City Council unanimously approved a spending plan with a significant investment for affordable housing and fire rescue.
Council members agreed to allocate nearly $12 million to create and sustain affordable housing units
The seven-member board also approved a $1.5 million plan to build a new fire station in the Fowler area of North Tampa.
However, council members decided to cap pay raises at 3 percent for nearly 1,000 non-union city employees.
Fewer dollars will be allocated to the Parks and Recreation Department and repaving the cracking and crumbling roads throughout the city.
“So ultimately, what we were able to do was to get some basic core critical needs met by looking into the reserves and looking at budget cuts in other areas,” said council member Luis Viera. “This is a one-year coupon that we have and took advantage of for one year. Next year we’ve have to talk about long-term needs.”
It was a challenge for council members to locate the funds needed after striking down Mayor Jane Castor’s $1.9 billion budget proposal and the double-digit property tax hike that came with it.
“Everybody worked really hard, put a lot of sweat equity into that and working with the administration, with the Castor administration to get things done. So, I think tonight was a real victory for the people,” said Viera.
When asked about potential cuts to events like Boom by the Bay and River O’ Green Fest, Viera said those were not brought up for a vote, and he would not support that. “For one thing we have to respect the legacy of our Irish American brothers and sisters. That’s certainly something that’s important. I would not support cutting that. As for ‘Boom By the Bay, God bless America. We’re not going to defund the Fourth of July,” said Viera.
Next month, council members are expected to discuss the possibility of using government bonds as an additional funding source.