On Tuesday June 8th, the Leon County Commission will vote on an agreement between the Leon County and the Children’s Services Council (CSC) which will provide the CSC a $400,000 loan for their initial year of operation. If the loan is granted, the CSC will repay the funds in full with interest by the end of the fiscal year.
In accordance with the Truth in Millage (TRIM) Act, which informs taxpayers what taxes are owed and which governmental entity is collecting, the Leon County CSC will create a budget and millage rate, but will not begin collecting property taxes until November 2021. Therefore, the newly appointed council requires the loan to hire staff and begin operations until local funding is secured.
Florida Statutes permits the County to fund the CSC during its first year of operation which may include financial and/or staffing support.
Several counties have granted loans to their children’s services councils including Okeechobee ($5,000), Palm Beach ($150,000), and Broward ($500,000). Other counties chose to limit its support to in-kind staffing from the offices of the County Administrator, County Attorney, and Clerk of the Courts during the initial startup period.
As requested by the CSC, it is recommended that any funds provided by the County through a loan be restricted to operating expenses. Loan funds would not be utilized for programs and services or allocated to other organizations to provide programs and services.
If authorized by the Commission, the interlocal agreement would stipulate that the loan is to be repaid by the end of the fiscal year as the CSC will begin collecting tax revenue in November 2021. Additionally, the agreement would include an interest rate of 1.5 % based upon the 10-year treasury rate.
The CSC, which was approved by a voter referendum in 2020, is tasked with assessing the needs of children and families in Leon County and to developing strategies for addressing those needs. The CSC is able to “fund programs that meet the specific needs of children and families in their community,” by coordinating with other agencies, both public/private, who are dedicated to the welfare of children.