News Release     

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

Leon County Logo

_________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6/23/2015

CONTACT: 

Mathieu Cavell
Public Information Officer

(850) 606-5300


Leon County Balances the Budget While Maintaining Quality Service

2015/2016 Budget Addresses Community Priorities without Increase in 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 Tuesday, balanced the County’s tentative budget without raising the millage rate. The proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget of $238.4 million is a 4.4 percent increase from last year’s budget. Since last year, preliminary property values have grown 4.5 percent. Excluding funding increases for one-time extraordinary spikes, such as the Presidential Preference Primary, the preliminary budget increase is 3.6 percent.

The Board accomplished this year’s balanced budget while leaving the millage rate at the current 8.3144 mills. The County deliberately used reserves, all in an effort to maintain quality service levels and focus on capital infrastructure needs.

During Tuesday’s workshop, the Board reviewed a preliminary budget that did not include significant service delivery reductions. After four hours of very productive discussion and debate, the Board approved a tentative budget for the 2015/2016 fiscal year.

“I am very pleased with today’s workshop and proud of the fiscal stewardship our Board continues to embody. Recent years have been filled with very difficult budget decisions and this year is no different,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Mary Ann Lindley. “While property values have gone up, the Board has continued focusing on delivering quality services citizens want and expect while not overcommitting to new expenses. I am confident that we have balanced our budget responsibly for the upcoming year.”

The preliminary 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:

• Refinancing debt service, which will save $300,000 in Fiscal Year 2016 and $585,000 over the two year life of the refinancing;
• Reducing a net of three positions funded by general revenue due to pre-planning and/or the consolidation of duties;
• Adding an environmental review specialist to assist in environmental permitting review and to be paid for by permitting fees;
• Providing additional operating funds to pay for additional sidewalk and right-of-way maintenance;
• Providing $1.5 million to begin implementing the Board’s sidewalk priorities; 
• Supplying the Sheriff with resources to implement a step pay plan needed to remain competitive in the retention of deputies and correction officers; and
• Increasing funding for social service agencies by allocating an additional $175,000 to the Community Human Service Partnership (CHSP).

“Again, this year, we have a very conservative budget that is reflective of the slow economic recovery that we're in. I am confident it will allow us as an organization to continue providing the high quality services that our citizens have come to expect from their County government,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. “The County Commission continues to exercise responsible fiscal stewardship while providing exemplary services to this community. The Board approved a preliminary budget today that focuses on ensuring the long-term fiscal viability of Leon County.”

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 eight 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.

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.

And when compared to Florida’s other 66 counties:

• Leon County has the ninth lowest net budget per capita; and
• Leon County has the seventh lowest number of employees per capita.

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) was reestablished at 0.5 mills. Based on the results of today’s workshop, the Board will establish the tentative countywide millage rate at their July 7, 2015 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, Sept. 15, 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, Sept. 29, 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 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 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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