The Orlando Sentinel published an article today about Tuesday’s Board meeting where the Lake County Board decided 4 to 1 to NOT increase most property tax millage rates, thus causing a need to fix funding shortages. About 20 people provided public input, and all of them but one sixteen year old told the Board to NOT increase millage rates. The sixteen year old wanted the millage rates to be increased. The Board agreed with the majority by voting 4 to 1 to NOT increase millage rates, and they decided to take the needed funds from cash reserves. They also discussed the need to have public discussions early next year to put service cuts on the table for discussion for the FOLLOWING tax year of 2014.
Unfortunately, today’s Orlando Sentinel article made it seem like that decision would reduce bus, library and other services this coming budget year starting Oct. 1, 2012, and in my opinion that was not true.
You can also watch the actual videos of the meeting here - watch the videos for the Sept. 11th meeting:
Here is my answer, as posted in their comments section, and I confirmed this today with Board Chair Leslie Campione:
This article needs to be clarified because
The article started out with saying the Commissioners could be shutting down the County's subsidized bus service, libraries etc. due to keeping millage rates the same as last year. That is not completely true, and NOT for this coming budget year that starts October 1. The Board agreed to start tough DISCUSSIONS in the first quarter of 2013 to plan for the FOLLOWING 2014 budget year. The shortages for this year will be taken from cash reserves and already implemented staff and spending decisions. The article was incorrect when it quoted Leslie Campione as saying she suggested cuts and implied it would start in this fiscal year... she was talking about how to handle future cash shortages in the FOLLOWING 2014 budget year. There are NO plans to reduce the mentioned services THIS 2012/2013 budget year and the article did not make that clear. It is possible some cuts could be implemented in the middle of next fiscal year, but only after further analysis and public hearing discussions. ( I confirmed this with Leslie today).
Don't aggravate everyone about cuts to libraries, buses, etc until it actually starts being discussed NEXT year. The economy could go up and the problem goes away.
For background, here is the Daily Commercial article on the same topic:
And, here is the same topic from the blog “Right Side of the Lake” (RSOL)
None of the articles clarified that the specific, possible cuts listed by Campione and Board member Jimmy Conner were to be discussed in early 2013 for implementation in the 2013/2014 budget year or perhaps by mid-2013. Again, they are not being implemented this coming budget year for now. It is normal for budget hearings to start early in the prior year. For instance, for this upcoming Oct. 1 budget year, staff started with presentations to the Board last December, 10 months before an implementation or approval date.
Why would the Lake Sentinel mis-state the issue of cutting services. Could it be they don't support taxpayers who didn't want increased millage rates. Could it be they want controversy by herding u nknowing people to the next Sept. 25th meeting when it isn't necessary. Who knows, but it was an incendiary article (which we sometimes do ourselves, officials remind us).
As a consequence of the inaccurate Sentinel article, many confused recipients of County services may show up at the second public hearing, so supporters of holding tax millage rates should attend the Sept. 25th public hearing at 5:05 pm at the round County Admin building in Tavares to give public input.
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