Tuesday, July 21, 2009

North Port in Denial?

NORTH PORT - North Port faces a looming financial crisis that could force it to cut tens of millions of dollars from its budget for years to come. But instead of cutting expenses, the city is spending its savings and hoping for an economic turnaround.

Without tax increases and deep spending reductions, city budget writers predict North Port's general fund will be $10 million short by 2011, with cumulative shortfalls of $59 million by 2014.

To come up with $59 million, the city would have to shut down City Hall, the police force, part of the fire department and the City Commission -- in other words, its entire general fund, which is $42 million this year. ...

Despite the problems, city leaders have avoided the steep reductions in services, wages or employees that other area local governments have taken. Indeed, last month, they approved $870,000 in wage increases for firefighters and rejected a proposed $400,000 budget cut for the police force next year.


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