ALACHUA COUNTY, FL – At a special meeting on August 16, 2016, the County Commission made the final decisions necessary to bring the FY17 Tentative Budget to the September Public Hearings for finalization. The Public Hearings will take place on September 13th and September 27th. Both meetings begin at 5 p.m. in the Jack Durrance Auditorium in the County Administration Building located at 12 S.E. 1st Street, Gainesville.
The budget adoption is the Board’s most powerful tool for articulating their priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. Board decisions on new items in the FY17 budget clearly demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of our community’s children, public safety, roads and transportation needs, and the diversity and future of the County’s workforce.
“My staff and I look forward to implementing the Board’s priorities as spelled out in the FY17 Budget,” commented County Manager Lee A. Niblock, “The Board has assembled a budget that has, at its center, serving the citizens of Alachua County by spending their tax dollars efficiently.”
The General Fund Millage Rate Decrease
Paid by all county citizens, the countywide millage rate was decreased from 8.9545 mills to 8.9290 mills for a .0255 reduction. This decrease was possible because, at the conclusion of the special meeting, unallocated funds were available.
Municipal Services Taxing Units (MSTUs) Millage Rate Increase
Paid by unincorporated residents, the three MSTUs millage rates (Law Enforcement, Fire, and Unincorporated services) increased by a combined total of .3354 mills going from a total of 4.5011 mills to 4.8372 mills. The vast majority of this increase was to pay for crucial public safety services including law enforcement and fire/rescue needs.
Children’s Services Council (CSC)
Continuing their longtime commitment to our children, the Board budgeted $1.25 million for the creation of the Children’s Services Council. Through the advice and recommendation of the Council, the Board will explore the creation of innovative programs to address the needs of children ranging from prenatal to age five.
Funding for Roads
Building on last year’s General Fund increase, the Board again demonstrated their commitment to tackling the issue of the County’s deteriorating roadways. In addition to Gas Tax funding, the Board increased General Fund contributions to roads by over 27% (from $2,577,760 to $3,285,536). The Board committed to three road-resurfacing projects in the coming year: CR 236, Tower Road, and N.W. 43rd Street.
Demonstrating their continued commitment to the safety of our citizens, the Board increased the Sheriff’s budget by $2.5 million, to a total of $73.6 million (a 3.5% increase).
Increase in Employee Minimum Wage
In a concerted effort to continue the movement towards a Living Wage for all employees, the Board raised the minimum wage for County employees from $12 per hour to $12.50. This change will also affect certain employees of some vendors doing business with the County.
Three Person Staffing at Rural Fire Stations
The Board was convinced that three person staffing would improve the safety of our citizens, Fire Rescue personnel, and protect the continued insurability of our resident’s homes. The cost of this staffing is $658,000.
One Additional Peak Load Ambulance Staffing
The Board allocated $313,487 for additional staffing during peak load call times. It is estimated that the revenue from this addition will be about $365,000, making this a profitable decision for the County. This staffing will provide faster response times to County citizens when they are in need of critical ambulance services.
Regional Transit Service (RTS)
To better serve the citizens that rely on bus service, the Board increased RTS funding by $111,000 to bus routes going into the unincorporated area of the County. This increase will provide improved service on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
Diversity and Millennial Recruiting
Recognizing the need for a more diverse work force in our Fire Rescue Department, the Board approved a Diversity Recruiting position. The Board also approved the Millennial Recruitment program to attract the next generation of public servants. A total of $248,552 was budgeted for these efforts.
For more information, contact Communications and Legislative Affairs Director Mark Sexton at 352-374-5204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.