Earlier this month, Leon County voters approved the creation of a Children’s Services Council. A Children’s Services Council, or CSC, is an independent, special district which by state law can levy a new property tax for children services. The discussion to create a CSC to in Leon County has been met with strong favor and opposition for some time, culminating with election day’s approval of the initiative.
Now that the CSC has been approved, both opponents and advocates for the program are looking toward the future. How the CSC will organize, appoint members, and allocate funds are all questions that the new council will have to answer.
At their November 17th, the Leon County Commission approved a staff recommendation that scheduled the first steps in organizing the CSC.
In total, the CSC board will consist of 10 members. These include the superintendent of schools, a local school board member, a district administrator from the Department of Children and Families or an appropriate replacement, a member of the county governing body and a judge assigned to juvenile cases.
The County Commission will select a Commissioner to serve on the CSC on Dec. 8, 2020. The other 4 members will be notified of their appointment or directed to select a designee to serve on the CSC if necessary.
The Governor will appoint the remaining five positions that should, according to the statute, “represent the demographic diversity of the population of the county.” Applications for these positions will be open to the public starting Nov. 18. and will close on January 13, 2021.
After the application deadline has past, the eligible applications will be compiled for the Board’s consideration during the January 26, 2021 Commission meeting. In order to narrow down the pool of applicants to the 15 nominations that will be submitted to the Governor, each Commissioner nominate two (2) applicants and the full Board will nominate one (1) additional applicant.
Once the 15 people are nominated, the Governor will have 45 days to make his selections or request a batch of new candidates.
According to the statute, following appointment, members will “elect a chair and a vice chair from among its members, and elect other officers as deemed necessary by the council,” indicating the presence of a local figure as director of Leon County’s sector of the CSC.
The CSC will be using property tax money to fund children’s services programs in Leon County. The average homestead property in the area would generate a tax of approximately $50 annually, which could raise up to $8 million in the first year alone. The initiative’s statute claims that “all tax money collected under this section…shall be paid directly to the council on children’s services by the tax collector of the county or the clerk of the circuit court if the clerk collects delinquent taxes.”