News Release     

Board of County Commissioners
Leon County Courthouse
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
(850) 606-5302

Leon County Logo

_________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/23/2014

CONTACT: 

Mathieu Cavell
Public Information Officer

(850) 606-5300


Leon County Adopts Fiscal Year 2014/2015 Budget

Budget Demonstrates Results of Deliberate Fiscal Actions during Great Recession over the Last Six Years
 

The Leon County Board of County Commissioners unanimously adopted the fiscal year 2014/2015 budget of $228,455,029 Tuesday evening, balancing the County’s budget without raising the millage rate. The adopted budget is a 2.7 percent increase from last year’s budget. Since last year, property values have grown 4.1 percent. For the first time in seven years, Leon County increased the budget.

 

In its continued effort to deliberately focus on the most fiscally responsible budget possible, the County Commission accomplished the Fiscal Year 2015 balanced budget while leaving the millage rate at the current 8.3144 mills.

 

During previous budget discussions and workshops, the Board reviewed a preliminary budget that, for the first time in seven years, did not include significant service delivery reductions. After very productive discussion and debate on Tuesday, the Board approved a final budget for the 2014/2015 fiscal year.

 

“I am very proud of the Board’s hard work and our continued, focused efforts through this budget process,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Kristin Dozier. “After recent years filled with difficult budget decisions, the Commission took a deliberate and balanced approach for this budget. While property values have gone up, the Board focused on delivering quality services while not overcommitting to new expenses. I am confident that the Board has a responsible budget plan in place for the upcoming year.”

 

The budget was developed in a slowly improving economy, where growth in property tax revenues and state sales tax revenues are beginning to cover the inflationary costs of government expenses without having to reduce program services. Some actions taken to balance the budget include:

 

  • To address the 24 percent increase in calls for service from 2003 to 2014, the budget includes one fully staffed ambulance for Leon County Emergency Medical Services to ensure and protect public safety;

 

  • As a result of the upturn in building and development projects, three staff positions would be added to Development Services and Environmental Management Department (DSEM), all of which are entirely supported through permitting revenues. As a result of citizen input, one position would be added for code compliance that would be supported by registration fees. Since the beginning of the Great Recession, DSEM has lost eighteen positions. The budget would return only a small portion of these positions;

 

  • Refinancing outstanding debt for a total savings for Fiscal Year 2015 of $145,000;

 

  • As a result of continued investments in energy improvements, the budget includes $500,000 of energy-related cost savings;

 

  • Implementing performance pay to incentivize employee production that reflects the County’s “People Focused, Performance Driven” culture;

 

  • Adding one new position in Public Works and Community Development funded by general revenue to the right-of-way maintenance program;

 

  • Realigning hours of service at rural waste service centers to coincide with peak use and reduce general revenue funding. Last year, the Board of County Commissioners instituted a fee structure for use of the centers. After reevaluating the public’s use, the Board decided to change the hours of service that aligned with peak usage when 81 percent of the public accessed the centers. This change would allow Solid Waste Management staff to serve the majority of users while also realizing a cost savings of $135,000;

 

  • Implementing a plan to cross-train and co-locate Office of Intervention and Detention Alternatives staff, including funding to merge probation and supervised pretrial release positions; and

 

  • Implementing a fund sweep of $8.8 million to place the County in a position to continue funding general maintenance projects and to maintain a sufficient amount of contingency funds.

 

“This is a very conservative budget that reflects the slow economic recovery that we're in,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. “However, I'm confident that it will allow us as an organization to continue to provide the high quality services that our citizens have come to expect from their County government.”

 

Through a structure called Leon LEADS, the organizational culture of Leon County Government focuses on those things the County can control to demonstrate results during tough times in a continuous effort to become the highest performing organization that it can be. Leon County’s LEADS Cross Departmental Action Teams performed an internal review to find efficiencies and the teams’ recommendations yielded new efficiencies throughout many work areas. Leon County Government has embraced technology to reduce costs, advanced innovations, leveraged community partnerships and privatized when appropriate. Also, no small cost saving has been overlooked.

 

In spite of increased costs, unfunded mandates from the State, and financial constraints born out of tax-reform legislation, the Board of County Commissioners has made a concerted effort over the past seven years to minimize the impact on service delivery to the citizens of Leon County, implementing expenditure reductions and reducing and restructuring services.

 

The development of the current year budget is not an action that is isolated from previous Board budgets, but a continuation of an ongoing effort to maintain quality services and focus on capital infrastructure needs. The proposed budget is essentially a maintenance budget. The highest priorities are placed on continuing a quality level of service of current County programs. The majority of the funds are allocated toward the maintenance of the County’s infrastructure, such as roads, facilities, stormwater improvements and parks.

 

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) was reestablished at 0.5 mills.

 

Leon County continues to maintain the lowest net budget, the lowest net budget per resident, the second lowest number of employees per capita than any other like-sized counties in Florida.

 

To inform the community of the budget hearings, Leon County continued to implement public information and community outreach via media partner interaction, utilization of the County’s website, government access television channel (Comcast Channel 16) and social media outlets.

 

For detailed information on the budget, 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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