The Leon County Board of County Commissioners, in a 7-0 vote, balanced the County’s tentative budget without raising the millage rate for the eighth year in a row. The proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget of $274.3 million is a 4.06% percent increase from last year’s budget.
However, the increase in property tax revenue – due to an increase in property values – is considered a tax increase by state law.
“I am proud of the Board’s hard work at today’s budget workshop,” said Leon County Commission Chairman Jimbo Jackson. “By balancing the tentative budget and specifically eliminating fees at the rural waste collection centers, the County has demonstrated how we remain focused on providing the highest quality services our community expects and deserves.”
The preliminary budget was developed in an improving economy, where growth in property tax revenues and state sales tax revenues are covering the inflationary costs of government expenses without having to reduce program services. Some actions taken to balance the budget include:
- No change in either the Countywide Millage Rate of 8.3144 mills or the 0.5 EMS MSTU with an increase in property values of 5.74% Countywide;
- Implementing the first year of the multi-year fiscal plan to avoid tax and fee increases totaling $4.6 million annually by aggressively paying down debt, reallocating homestead exemption reserves, and eliminating the need for future tax and assessment increases of the EMS MSTU ($2.0 million), Solid Waste non-ad valorem assessment ($1.0 million) and the fire services fee ($1.6 million);
- Eliminating Rural Waste Collection Center fees (effective October 1, 2019) to save users more than $200,000 annually;
- Funding completion of the 60/90 ballfield project at Daniel B. Chaires Park;
- Supporting the Leon County Sheriff’s Office by funding the third year of a three-year staffing plan for enhanced law enforcement efforts in the community, including an additional four deputies, three technical positions for the Real Time Crime Center, and a Property Evidence Supervisor;
- Adding $292,000 in additional tourism development tax funding to bring additional national performers and concerts to the Amphitheater and the establishment of a “Legacy Events” grant program to ensure the continued success and financial support of long-standing community festivals;
- Realizing more than $1.49 million this year alone ($28.9 million total since 2013) in cost avoidance and budget reductions through employee innovations, competitive procurements, innovative approaches to facility capital maintenance, and leveraging financial markets to reduce debt costs; and
- Maintaining level funding for Primary Healthcare and Community Human Services Partnerships programs.
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 the July 9, 2019 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 17, at 6 p.m. in the Commission Chambers on the fifth floor of the Leon County Courthouse, located at 301 S. Monroe St.
The second public hearing will be at the same location on Tuesday, September 24, 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, utilization of the County’s website, government access television channel (Comcast Channel 16 / CenturyLink) and social media outlets.