County budget shrinking with revenues

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Levy County is only expecting to receive $21,092,968 in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, and on Monday heard spending requests totaling $20,811,999.

The lion’s share of the budget — $10,804,058 — was requested by the Levy County Sheriff’s Office.

The requests were part of a budget workshop held by the Levy County Commission on Monday.

Although County Property Appraiser Oz Barker did not attend the meeting — and his budget request is down 14 percent from last year — property taxes were on everyone’s minds. 

Barker usually delivers the property value and tax report, but the tentative budget presented by Deputy Clerk for Finance Sheila Rees has her estimate of $12,848,640 in property tax collections. That figure is down from $13,886,500 budgeted for the current year and $14,771,592 in 2009-10.

The first budget requests to be presented were from the constitutional officers. Rees boss, Clerk of Courts Danny Shipp announced he is requesting the same budget as last year and he did not make any changes to accommodate for the 3 percent payment to be made by employees into the state retirement system.

As of Friday workers covered by the state retirement program must contribute 3 percent of their gross pay into the fund. Commissioner Marsha Drew of Yankeetown (R-District 3) said revenues are expected to be down 7.5 percent from the current year and noted that this year’s revenues were predicted to be down 5 percent from 2009-2010. 

Supervisor of Elections Connie Asbell said she was requesting the same amount of money because she will be be preparing for three elections in the next year and will have to accommodate redistricting.  

Drew asked Asbell to reveal more of how her money is spent. “I asked for more detailed information and the sheriff’s office did that.” She said County Coordinator Freddie Moody has also made the request via email.

“What would be nice is if you would come to the office and I can show you what we do,” Asbell replied.

Just send over the information, was Drew’s reply.

Drew repeated her budget cutting mantra with Maj. Evan Sullivan who presented Sheriff Johnny Smith’s request. “So, 7.5 percent, any ideas?”

Tax Collector Linda Fugate said her office is supported by the fees it collects, but she will need help with the Williston office. She explained that the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency wanted to be rid of the “old, white metal mobile home” where she hold office hours once a week. She said she was looking at alternatives.