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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

City manager sees reason for optimism in coming fiscal year


Published:

PLANT CITY City Manager Greg Horwedel expects the property tax rate will remain the same and utility rates to only slightly increase in 2013-14.

Horwedel said in his annual State of the City address that he is cautiously optimistic about the coming fiscal year. He said the city continues to benefit from rising sales taxes and other factors linked to the improvement in the economy and housing prices.

Highlights of his June 10 presentation included:

The city's property tax rate should remain at $4.72 per $1,000 of taxable, assessed value for the year starting Oct. 1. The rate has remained the same for four years.

Sanitation rates will remain the same for the fifth year.

Water and sewer rates will rise according to a price index that hasn't been yet been calculated but Horwedel expects no sharp increases; last year's increase was about 2 percent. Wastewater rates will go up 3 percent as part of an annual rate increase schedule approved several years ago.

The crime rate has been essentially unchanged in the last decade.

The city has or will soon complete at least portions of such projects as the Dr. Hal and Lynn Brewer Park, Mendonsa Road reconstruction and drainage improvements that include the East Side Canal and in the Mobley-Palmetto streets area.

The city repaved 10 miles of roads at a cost of $2.3 million.

The city expects to open six soccer fields by November in Ellis-Methvin Park. Progress on the park at 2401 E. Cherry St. has been slow due to poorly drained soils that required installation of an underground drainage system.

Construction has been generally up this fiscal year, including $8.2 million in building permits for renovations and construction at Lake Walden Square for a new Ross Dress for Less, Michael's store and PetSmart.

The city continues to seek bids for companies or groups interested in buying or leasing Plant City Stadium and the adjacent Randy L. Larson Softball Four-Plex. An initial advertisement brought in only one proposal, which the city rejected. The new bids are due June 28.

The city expects this fall to advertise for proposals from developers interested in redeveloping Midtown. The 85-acre area south of downtown is largely business and industrial, and the city forsees a developer building shops and homes there.

Projects under way in Midtown include realignment of Wheeler Street to eliminate an odd intersection. The city expects work to be completed by January.

Mayor Mike Sparkman, who opened the State of the City program, praised Horwedel and the work he's done in the four years since he took the top job.

"He has been that strong leader that we needed," Sparkman said.

dnicholson@tampatrib.com

(813) 394-5103

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