County Continues to Fund Community Priorities with No Millage Rate Increase
In its continued efforts to deliberately focus on the most fiscally responsible budget possible, Leon County held its first budget workshop of the Fiscal Year 2022-23 cycle. As part of today's workshop, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted to balance the County’s preliminary budget without raising the millage rate for the 11th year in a row. The proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget totals $316.2 million with an increase of 7.5% from last year’s budget.
“I am very proud of the Board’s hard work at today’s budget workshop to both fund community priorities while also supporting equitable and competitive pay for all County employees,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Bill Proctor. “With rising prices both at the grocery store and at the fuel pump, it was the moral and professional decision to ensure County employees received a five percent pay increase across the organization. In addition, the County also addressed one of the community’s greatest needs of food insecurity through mobile feeding programs and innovative partnerships.”
The budget includes the following highlights that positively position Leon County for the future:
- No increases in the Countywide or EMS property tax rates, and no increases to the stormwater, solid waste, and fire non-ad valorem assessments;
- Fully supporting the Leon County Sheriff’s Office’s (LCSO) and all Constitutional Officers’ budget requests, including first year of a two-year compensation plan to bring the starting pay for all sworn LCSO staff to $50,000 and funding expanded voting operations at the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office including increased mail-in ballots, voting security, redistricting public information and community education;
- Allocating millions of dollars in funding to support strategic, long-term infrastructure investments that maintain core capital assets including thousands of acres of parks and trails, numerous playgrounds, miles of sidewalks, hundreds of miles of roads, over two million square feet of facilities and hundreds of computers and files servers, and more;
- Allocating funds to address food insecurity and leverage partnerships with Second Harvest of the Big Bend by increasing access to food through a mobile pantry, and creating a new County staff position focused on working closely with local non-profits to further engage and educate targeted neighborhoods;
- Adequately staffing a new 10-person, 24/7 EMS ambulance crew to maintain response times;
- Allocating capital funding to support the Essential Libraries Initiative and enhance customer experience, technology and space improvements;
- Establishing a new four-person litter debris removal crew to maintain our hundreds of miles of rights of way;
- Restoring the County’s reserves after responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting both lives and livelihoods;
- Maximized all federal and ARPA funding, having expended CARES funding and now closing out ERA programs;
- Ensuring a high-performing workforce with fair pay and equitable practices by implementing a market-based compensation study and a $15 County minimum wage effective October 1, 2022;
- New costs savings and avoidances of $3.39 million, bringing the total to $62.8 million since FY 2013.
“With the continued leadership of the Board, the dedication of our talented staff and the active engagement of citizens and partners, Leon County continues to be as well-positioned as any organization to meet the current and foreseeable challenges and opportunities facing our organization and community,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. “The development of the annual budget is not only a year-round process, but an ongoing multi-year process. The budget reflects the community’s pressing needs as well as the Board’s longer term fiscal policies and contingency planning to ensure the County’s long term fiscal viability. A big part of this budget process is ensuring that we continue to place the County in the very best position to handle whatever comes our way.”
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 their July 12, 2022, 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 13, at 6 p.m. in the Commission Chambers on the fifth floor of the Leon County Courthouse, located at 301 S. Monroe Street.
The second public hearing will be at the same location on Tuesday, September 20, 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, through the County’s website, government access television channel (Comcast Channel 16 / CenturyLink), Roku streaming channel and social media outlets.
For detailed information on Tuesday’s budget workshop, please visit the Leon County website at 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.