Less Money, More Problems...Alachua County Budget
They are going to have to do more with less, or will they? Tax revenues are expected to drop in Alachua County. But county officials say the needs of residents are only going up. Commissioners say as a result, taxes might have to go up too.
Last year's budget problems haven't even been settled, but there's still next year to plan for. At today's budget discussion, each commissioner acknowledged the tough road ahead. Trying to cut back an already stretched budget, with big ticket items, like jail staffing and road issues, on the horizon.
Commissioners Mike Byerly, Rodney Long and Paula DeLaney voted to use the budget road map they used last year to determine how much money each department will get this year. The majority on the commission saying that any funds above that amount will have to be asked for individually and justified by constitutional officers like the Sheriff and the Supervisor of Elections.
With property values expected to fall, leading to a three percent decrease in revenue, they also discussed the millage rate.
County Manager Randall Reid said, "Do a two tier budget, which is the same thing we did last year. That provides a budget with no millage rate increase and also a budget with a simple majority...If we keep millage rates where we're at this year there'd be $2.7 million reduction in revenue for the county in the general fund. If we do a simple majority there will be an additional $1.7 million...and we have far more than that in requests."
There was a lot of philosophical debate between commissioners throughout the meeting, especially with extra taxes and fees potentially in the works. Commissioner Susan Baird said, "Going through this line by line, item by item and just making sure it is the bear necessities of what government services should be for and then redirecting the rest over towards...and then we can bridge that gap with a sales tax if necessary."
No final decisions yet, but if last years budget battle and these first few meetings are any indicator, there will be no shortage of heated discussion this year.
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