County releases Fiscal Year 2024 proposed budget
Pinellas County Administrator Barry A. Burton on Tuesday presented the County’s proposed Fiscal Year 2024 Budget to the Board of County Commissioners. The proposed budget of $3.8 billion accounts for increases in the cost of labor and materials without raising the property tax rate.
Conservative fiscal practices along with sustained local growth will allow the County to continue providing the same high level of service and meet budget goals without raising the millage – the rate used to calculate property taxes – for the tenth straight year.
The budget includes $2.8 billion for County operations (excluding transfers) and $946.5 million for capital improvement projects. The Penny for Pinellas sales tax will continue to fully fund projects promised as part of the original plan and is balanced for the remainder of its 10-year term.
Key budgetary goals over the next year include:
- Behavioral Health – Continuing to streamline access to behavioral health services, including the rollout of a new Coordinated Access Model.
- Transportation – New technologies for the Advanced Transportation Management System/Intelligent Transportation System (ATMS/ITS) to move traffic more efficiently on major corridors across the county with one-time funding and with additional support to expand the level of service on countywide roads and bridges.
- Housing Affordability – Continued support for new developments with affordable and workforce housing in partnership with cities, the Pinellas County Housing Finance Authority, and state and federal funding programs. The County in partnership with Forward Pinellas will focus on the rollout of the Housing Action Plan over the next year, including new funding for the development of a regulatory toolkit to make it easier to develop more homes at all income levels.
- Workforce Retention – Providing for the County workforce to ensure retention and recruitment.
In August, TRIM notices with proposed property taxes will be mailed followed by budget hearings in September ahead of adoption by the County Commission.
Other BCC actions:
- Smoking/vaping ban in County beach parks & preserves: The Commission passed an ordinance banning smoking and vaping in the sandy beach areas of Fort De Soto, Sand Key and Fred Howard Park. Smoking or vaping is only prohibited on the sand and will continue to be allowed in all other areas of these parks. The ordinance also formalizes a ban on smoking and vaping at all County preserves as well as the Florida Botanical Gardens and Heritage Village.
- Pinellas enters regional consortium to seek “Tech Hub” designation: The Commission approved a resolution to enter a regional economic development consortium made up of Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough counties for the purpose of making an application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Tech Hubs grant program and to secure the required local funding match. The EDA will designate at least 20 Tech Hubs across the nation under the program and will separately award grants for strategy development plans to grow key industries to grow technologies and jobs of the future.
- Lealman redevelopment plan amendments approved: The Commission took the first steps to amend the County’s comprehensive plan to put in place the Lealman form-based code. The form-based code will support redevelopment of the Lealman community by focusing development on major corridors and increasing quality housing options while protecting residential neighborhoods. The Lealman form-based code was endorsed by the community over the course of several public workshops and direct consultation with the Lealman Citizen Advisory Committee. Adoption of zoning and code amendments to put the form-based code in place will occur later this year.
- Housing Action Plan endorsement: The Commission voted to endorse the Advantage Pinellas Housing Action Plan, a 10-year plan to increase attainable housing linked to transportation, jobs, schools, workforce development, and other services across the county. The plan will enact the goals of the Advantage Pinellas Housing Compact by establishing milestones and a timeline for the Compact’s strategies. The plan has already been endorsed by the Forward Pinellas Board and will now go to cities that are part of the Compact. Learn more about the Housing Action Plan.
- Hometown heroes honored: The Commission recognized the achievements of two local young people. Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School eighth-grader Dev Shah recently won the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee while Palm Harbor resident Caroline Dixon was crowned Miss Florida USA earlier this year.