West Palm Beach budget: City has $8.4 million budget gap

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- An $8.4 million budget gap may impact the services the City of West Palm Beach provides, Finance Director Jeff Green said during a City Commission workshop on Monday.

It was unclear after the workshop if commissioners would consider reductions in the police or fire departments or other services.

The projected gap in the 2013-2014 fiscal year that begins on October 1st is being driven by property values impacted by the housing crisis and increases in pension costs.

Property values, which provide the City of West Palm Beach with one third of its revenue, were expected to increase 2% over last year.

Pensions obligations have risen from $9.4 million to $16.3 million over the past four years.

"Our budget isn't any different than the budget of every family in our city," said Mayor Jeri Muoio. "You can't spend more than you have, so together the Commission and I need to look at some tough options and possibly make some hard decisions about reducing costs or we need to find a way to bring in more revenue."

Green said the pension increases were "unsustainable" in the current economic climate.

It may take ten years before property values get close to what they were in 2007, the year the housing crisis started, a city spokesperson said.

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