Leon County Balances Funding Community Priorities
Without Increasing Millage Rate
In its continued effort to deliberately focus on the most fiscally responsible budget possible, the Leon County Board of County Commissioners, in a 7-0 vote today, balanced the County’s tentative budget without raising the millage rate for the eighth year in a row. The proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget of $274.3 million is a 4.06% percent increase from last year’s budget.
The Board accomplished this year’s tentative balanced budget while leaving the millage rate at the current 8.3144 mills. The development of the FY 2020 budget reflects a continued focus on annual budget constraint and the continuous year-round internal efforts that drive innovation, produce efficiencies and realize cost savings and cost avoidances.
"I am proud of the Board's hard work at today's budget workshop," said Leon County Commission Chairman Jimbo Jackson. "By balancing the tentative budget and specifically eliminating fees at the rural waste collection centers, the County has demonstrated how we remain focused on providing the highest quality services our community expects and deserves.”
The preliminary budget was developed in an improving economy, where growth in property tax revenues and state sales tax revenues are covering the inflationary costs of government expenses without having to reduce program services. Some actions taken to balance the budget include:
- No change in either the Countywide Millage Rate of 8.3144 mills or the 0.5 EMS MSTU with an increase in property values of 5.74% Countywide;
- Implementing the first year of the multi-year fiscal plan to avoid tax and fee increases totaling $4.6 million annually by aggressively paying down debt, reallocating homestead exemption reserves, and eliminating the need for future tax and assessment increases of the EMS MSTU ($2.0 million), Solid Waste non-ad valorem assessment ($1.0 million) and the fire services fee ($1.6 million);
- Eliminating Rural Waste Collection Center fees (effective October 1, 2019) to save users more than $200,000 annually;
- Funding completion of the 60/90 ballfield project at Daniel B. Chaires Park;
- Supporting the Leon County Sheriff’s Office by funding the third year of a three-year staffing plan for enhanced law enforcement efforts in the community, including an additional four deputies, three technical positions for the Real Time Crime Center, and a Property Evidence Supervisor;
- Adding $292,000 in additional tourism development tax funding to bring additional national performers and concerts to the Amphitheater and the establishment of a “Legacy Events” grant program to ensure the continued success and financial support of long-standing community festivals;
- Realizing more than $1.49 million this year alone ($28.9 million total since 2013) in cost avoidance and budget reductions through employee innovations, competitive procurements, innovative approaches to facility capital maintenance, and leveraging financial markets to reduce debt costs; and
- Maintaining level funding for Primary Healthcare and Community Human Services Partnerships programs.
Coming out of the economic recession, despite an era of unfunded mandates and cost shifts, as well as increased demands and costs, Leon County has positioned itself to be fiscally viable and responsible to its citizenry.
“Through the County Commission’s responsible fiscal stewardship, the dedication of our talented employees and the active engagement of citizens and partners, Leon County government is as well positioned as any organization to continue to meet the current and foreseeable challenges and opportunities facing our organization and community,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. “Over the past several budget cycles, budget discipline, sound financial planning and an organization-wide focus on innovation, cost avoidance and efficiency has positioned the County for long-term fiscal stability. While the national, state and local economies continue to improve, Leon County continues to approach its annual budget process by identifying opportunities to constrain budgetary growth, while ensuring the County’s limited resources continue to be aligned with meeting the greatest needs of our citizens as well as advancing our ambitious plans for our community."
When compared to other like-sized counties in Florida, Leon County continues to maintain the lowest net budget, the lowest net budget per resident, and the second-to-lowest number of employees per capita.
Based on the results of today’s workshop, the Board will establish the tentative countywide millage and Emergency Medical Services Municipal Services Taxing Unit rates at the July 9, 2019 meeting.
Citizens will have the opportunity to provide input on the budget before it is finalized in September. The first public hearing will be on Tuesday, September 17, at 6 p.m. in the Commission Chambers on the fifth floor of the Leon County Courthouse, located at 301 S. Monroe St.
The second public hearing will be at the same location on Tuesday, September 24, at 6 p.m., at which time the Board is scheduled to adopt the final budget and millage rates.
To inform the community of the upcoming budget hearings, Leon County will continue its public information and community outreach efforts, utilization of the County’s website, government access television channel (Comcast Channel 16 / CenturyLink) and social media outlets.
For detailed information on Tuesday’s budget workshop, please visit the Leon County website at www.LeonCountyFL.gov/OMB/, call the Leon County Office of Financial Stewardship / Office of Management & Budget at (850) 606-5100 or contact Leon County Community and Media Relations at (850) 606-5300 / CMR@LeonCountyFL.gov .
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