Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn unveiled a 2016 city budget Thursday that seeks to share some of the spoils that have been showered on downtown. After a decade of heavy spending in the city center, and with corporate investment downtown finally taking off, next year’s budget is an appropriate course adjustment that returns the focus to the neighborhoods.
The spending plan includes no big surprises, and it follows through on several high-profile promises to redo Riverfront Park across the Hillsborough River from downtown and to repair Cuscaden Pool, a historic venue in east Tampa’s predominantly black community. Buckhorn was careful with the checkbook: The city will spend less in 2016 and employ fewer people than in the current budget year. The mayor would keep the tax rate the same, but the city would still generate an additional $12.7 million in property taxes as its tax base increases and property values rise. Yet the mayor has held the line on new legacy projects and will bring new money to drainage work and other bread-and-butter needs.