By BOB WINTER
Hernando Sun Reporter
On Sept. 4, 2019 the Brooksville city council met to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2019- 2020 and the tentative ad valorem tax rate. Currently, the millage rate is set to 6.1738 mils. In congruence with the 2019 Florida Statute, Section 200.069, the maximum setting for the 2020 fiscal year ad valorem tax rate is 7.75 mils. An increase to the maximum possible rate would result in a 25.53% increase of the ad valorem tax. The proposed 2020 ad valorem tax rate is tentatively set to 6.2000 mils. This would represent an increase of 0.4244% to the 2019 ad valorem tax rate. The scheduled date for final adoption of the ad valorem tax rate is the 18th of September. The city council decided to raise the tax rate above the previous year’s rolled back rate in order to help balance the budget against the cost of planned roadworks projects, a 3% city employee raise, and added six new employees. There were no citizen commenters when the floor was opened to public questions. The city council voted to accept the FY 2020 tentative ad valorem tax rate 5-0.
As an aside, during the Sept. 4th meeting, there was discussion about assessing changes to the city’s current insurance underwriter, PRM. The city is currently going into the second year of a two year contract with PRM. FMIT, Florida Municipal Insurance Trust, was mentioned as a possible alternative. The city council ostensibly will be meeting with PRM on the 16th of September. The general consensus among the city council members was that it would be wise to put out a request for proposal after the current contract with PRM expires.
At the start of 2019, the city council recognized fourteen (14) priorities to be met or make progress on during the year. Highlights from the FY 2019-2020 budget include taking the Brooksville Fire Department from Basic Life Support (BLS) to Advanced Life Support (ALS) capabilities. Firefighters have begun paramedic training. The council voted to increase city employee pay by 3% in this agenda as well as adding six new jobs. Additionally, an updated Capital Investments Program that directs a total of $615,000 for roadway improvements has been included in the budget. The budget also provides for splitting the Public Works Department into two, creating a Public Works Department and Utilities Department, as well as other department rearrangements. The total for the “all funds” budget for FY 2019-2020 is $53,775,293 with the general fund portion budgeted at $10,200,903. The budget reviewed on Sept. 4th represents deliberation undertaken across six gatherings, consistent of workshops and special meetings, between March 25th and August 26th of 2019. During the Wednesday meeting, the Interim Finance Director formally presented an updated tentative budget and made the recommendation to accept. There were no citizen commenters when the floor was opened to public questions. The city council voted on their first roll call vote to approve the budget 5-0. The second reading is scheduled for Sept. 18th.