ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Public comment at Thursday’s St. Petersburg City Council meeting revealed the tentative budget for 2023 was not well received by some community members.
“This budget is a complete disgrace,” one speaker said.
Here’s how the city plans to allocate funding: Property and real estate taxes are going up (ad valorem tax), and that increase will bring in about an additional $20 million in revenue.
The money would go to things like funding a city employee housing assistance program, public safety equipment, a wage increase for all city employees including police and fire rescue, and workforce housing.
“We appreciate the small increases, any increase in funding towards housing, but it’s just simply not enough,” another speaker said.
Speakers at the meeting were hoping to see funds go to free public transportation, funding a tenant’s “right to counsel” to get legal representation for people facing eviction and free public housing.
One major critique was the more than $130 million going to St. Petersburg Police, up from the nearly $125 million the department got in the previous year’s budget.
Council members didn’t make any changes to the budget proposal before voting at Thursday’s meeting, but community activists are hoping that changes before everything is finalized.
“They need to get on the side of the people, and the side of the people is not the budget that they voted on," Jack Wallace who spoke at the meeting said.
The second reading and public hearing for the budget will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 29.