Creating a healthy reserve fund and making the most of COVID-19-related federal grant funding dominated the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) budget workshop for fiscal year 2021-2022. The BOCC met for a preliminary review of the County’s proposed budget on July 6.
Toni Brady, director of the County’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told the Board that the County’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year totaled just over $603.6 million with $30,261,377 or 25 percent in General Reserves. Other budget items included $15 million for the courthouse remodel, $10 million for the economic development hangar project, $3 million for the ERP financial system, $10 million for fire stations, $76.8 million for Constitutional officers’ salaries including Sheriff, Clerk of the Court/Comptroller, Property Appraiser and Supervisor of Elections.
Another $18.8 million in federal Recovery Act funds and $7.4 million in funds derived from the CARES Act were also included in the fiscal year 2022 budget.
On the docket were spending for future Capital projects including when the federal funds dry up, there to address the space needs for the Government Building, a public safety training complex, improving parking at the Hernando Beach Boat Ramp, improvements at the Airport Industrial Park, Kass Circle improvements.
Meanwhile, the focus for FY22 budget funding includes maintaining or increasing reserves, establishing a fund for capital projects, funding for economic development projects that bring new jobs and business in the County, maintaining a fund for storm recovery, making the most of Recovery Act funds, improving service effectiveness and maintaining a level of service for all areas of County government to accommodate increasing demands due to growth.
According to Commissioner Steve Champion, building reserves and making the most of revenue from the federal Recovery and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are crucial before costs for consumables and services go up.
“When the tap (federal money) is shut off and budgets are going through the roof and inflation’s back, it’s going to be a perfect storm,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to have big reserves.”
According to BOCC Chairman John Allocco, the workshop was intended to familiarize commissioners with preliminary budget contents. Hearings on specifics will take place in the near future.