TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s the kind of budget gap that could have major impacts on the way the city of Tampa operates.
Tampa City Council is crunching the numbers with a goal of shaving $45 million from the budget.
It’s been a challenge for the council to locate available funds after council members struck down Mayor Jane Castor’s $1.9 billion budget proposal and the property tax hike that came with it.
There are some popular public events that could be put on hold for the next year.
Council members are considering an option to scale back on holiday celebrations, including budget cuts to River O’Green Fest for St. Patrick’s Day and Boom by the Bay for Independence Day.
“There are things in our budget that the corporations who do business in our town should take on some fiscal responsibility,” said council member Gwendolyn Henderson.
However, several bar and restaurant owners said scaling back on downtown events could take a toll on their revenue.
For many, the implications are far-reaching and could ultimately force their employees to make tough choices as well.
“I’d have to get a second job,” said Jamie Simpson, a bartender at The Pint and Brew. “Honestly, I can’t make it without the second job. Not having events would be very detrimental.”
Council members are also examining salaries and potential raises for non-union city employees.
“I have no intention or will not support any layoffs in the city,” said Guido Maniscalco, chairperson of Tampa City Council. “The worst-case scenario is that we keep pay raises at no more than 3 percent for cost-of-living adjustment.”
At this point, budget cuts appear to be off the table for Tampa Police and Fire Rescue. Much of last week’s budget workshop was centered around bolstering investments in public safety.
Council members are discussing the possibility of allocating the funds needed to renovate several dilapidated fire stations that are more than 70 years old.
“Our biggest fear is that we’re going to continue to fall backwards,” said Nick Stocco, president of the Tampa Firefighters Union. “If we were standing still, we are falling even further back. This may set us back decades.”
Tampa City Council is expected to finalize the budget on Tuesday night at 5 p.m.