On June 16, 2015 Anita Favors Thompson released the City Manager’s budget for 2016. The proposed general fund budget calls for a $10.8 million property tax increase.
In an effort to determine why the $10.8 million was needed and where it would be spent, we met with Heath Beach of the City’s Budget Office.
Here is what we learned.
The City detailed in their budget documents that the $10.8 million increase in property tax revenue “is due to a proposed millage increase of 1 mill for FY 2016.”
It turns out this is not the case.
Mr. Beach said the increase in property values in 2016 will result in an additional $1.6 million in tax revenues without any millage rate increase.
This means the proposed 27% millage rate increase, from 3.7 mills to 4.7 mills, will raise an additional $9.2 million, not $10.8 million.
If you assume that the highest priority during this budget cycle, public safety, will be funded with the $1.6 million generated by the increase in property values – not the proposed millage rate increase, that leaves approximately $2 million required to fund additional police department resources.
Now the question becomes, what part of the budget will the $9.2 million raised by the proposed millage rate increase fund?
Personnel Expenses -$3 million annual increase for pay raises and additional officers
The budget documents indicate personnel expenses increased by $3 million from the previous year. Of this $3 million, approximately $2 million is slated for new police officers and $900,000 is going towards a 3% raise for all general government employees.
New Software -$2.2 million annual increase
Mr. Beach confirmed that the information system expense for computer software upgrades will increase by $2.2 million or 30% to an annual expense of $9.2 million.
Replacing One Time Revenues – $3 million annual increase
Mr. Beach confirmed that over the last two years, 2014 & 2015, the City has used reserve funds to pay for increases in recurring expenses. Approximately $3 million of the proposed tax increase will go to plug the hole left by the one time revenues that are no longer available.
A review of past budgets indicates that one-time revenues were needed for a $2.1 million increase in personnel expenses (pay raises and benefits from previous 2 years) and a $900,000 recurring increase in the general fund contribution to Star Metro in 2015. The general fund in 2016 is scheduled to contribute $7.8 million to Star Metro operations.
Human Services -$400,000 annual increase
The expenditures for Human Services, which are implemented by non-profit organizations, will increase by $400,000 from $1.2 million to $1.6 million.
The total of the items above accounts for approximately $8.6 million of the $9.2 million revenue raised by the tax increase.
Tallahassee Reports will next publish an analysis of the small increases in expenditures that account for the remaining amount proposed to be raised by the property tax increase.