ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - How do you close a financial gap of $10 million in a proposed 2013 budget of $472 million? St. Petersburg City Council has some ideas, but some resident's aren't too happy about some of the proposed solutions they have come up with.
Tom Tito is one of those concerned residents. He says he has lived in St. Pete for more than 40 years and has watched the city expand, the population grow and changes happen and he says that he takes issue with the newest change the city council has brought to the table.
"We're asking them to vote 'no' on the fire fee," says Tito. "Its a regressive tax, its an unfair tax and its also a confusing tax."
That 'fire fee' would basically shake out as a flat fee across the board for every St. Petersburg resident. Tito, a member of a grassroots group called Fair Tax Coalition, says that's just not fair. Vince Cocks, St. Pete resident for the last 20 years, agrees.
"Its a tax on every property. [That's] including the port, including nonprofits, including churches."
Cocks says ever since he moved to the area, the city has opted to raise millage rates, something he said he would much rather see, than a blanket fee put on those that simply can't afford it. He says a property tax increase makes more sense because everyone is taxed at different levels.
"I challenge the Mayor to really go down to where we are impoverished and hurting," says Cocks.
While public turnout was light at Thursday's council meeting in regards to the proposed "fire fee", there are two formal budget hearings scheduled for September 13 and September 27, where residents will be allowed to voice their concerns.
Meetings both Cocks and Tito say they will be attending.
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Last week, the I-Team was there when 99-year-old Willi Berchau was released from Florida's guardianship program after a three year court battle.