City Manager Anita Favors Thompson presented her proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 to the City Commission on Wednesday.
The preliminary $854 million budget included a General Fund deficit, but the final proposal addressed the deficit through a $2.3 million property tax increase, a $2 million increase in the electric utility transfer, and a $3 million one-time transfer from the Capital Improvement program.
This approach was not popular with some City Commissioners.
City Commissioner and Mayoral candidate Andrew Gillum asked if there was “an alternative budget.” He repeatedly voiced concerns about the additional $2 million that was added to the current $23.9 million electric utility transfer.
“I am a little surprised by the lack of justification for the electric utility transfer. This proposal did not go through the Financial Viability Committee”, said Gillum.
City Commissioner Gil Ziffer said “if we can do anything at all to avoid increasing the electric utility fund transfer I would like to see it.”
City Commissioner Maddox, who voiced concern about the property tax increase, seemed to have less problem with using funds form the electric utility reserve.
Using input from the budget workshops, which were attended by approximately 100 citizens, staff told city commissioners that the feedback from the community was to maintain or increase the level of services. Mayor Marks concurred, “we need to identify service impacts of changing the proposed budget. We are doing a good job.”
City Manager Thompson told city commissioners that service levels are being degraded in several departments due to the lack of funding. With regards to law enforcement, City Manager Anita Favors Thompson offered that “we are so far under required staff levels. Our staffing does not provide adequate back up.”
To support this point, staff handed out a document that indicated spending on city operations over the last five years has decreased from $730 million in 2008 to $685 million in 2013.
Reviewing the document, City Commissioner Nancy Miller said, “we can only be in a holding pattern so long.”
Tallahassee Reports is reviewing the document handed out by city staff and will have a report on the spending analysis.
The next budget workshop is July 1, 2013.