Alachua County Commissioners voted to raise taxes. But will residents actually pay less?
The millage rate may be higher... but Alachua County taxpayers could pay less next year.
In any case, lower property taxes mean the County will still take in less money.
County Commissioners approved higher taxes last night, but they'll still have less money to spend.
Alachua County Manager, Randall Reid, said that with less money and more needs, residents will have to adjust their expectations of local government.
Reid said, "We're living in a different time."
Commissioners adopted millage increases of 4.1% in the General Fund Millage, a 2.8% increase in Municipal Services Taxing Unit (or MSTU) Law Enforcement Millage and a 13.4% increase in MSTU Fire Services Millage.
Even with these increases, the County Manager says that because property values are declining, the County is getting less money.
Reid said, "In our case we're not even trying to break even because our budget is down...our General Fund budget declines 2.9 million dollars this year. The General Fund is what pays for police and firefighters and counselors and all those general functions of government."
Reid said that although emergency services will still be intact, other services will suffer. Especially as the need for government services increases in hard times.
In Alachua County's 4th year of reductions, there will be a loss of 20 jobs. Reid said, "You see non-profits arguing with each other, you see government agencies cannibalizing their own organizations and arguing with each other...that's part of the unfortunate reality of the "new normal," because there's not enough money to go around."
Despite the harsh realities of this economy, Reid said there is a solution. He said, "People can adopt parks, they can adopt right of ways, they can be involved in our social services programs...there's a lot of ways citizens get involved."
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