More than 500 residents representing many different organizations packed the Citrus County auditorium for a budget workshop to voice concerns about ways of handling a $7 million budget shortfall Tuesday night.
Students and families who use Extension services, specifically 4-H were all in green. Yellow t-shirts were worn by those supporting libraries and embroidered shirts with WCCC came to support the Senior Centers.
All were there to support the services they use and love in the community. They all wanted a chance to be heard and speak in front of the Board of County Commissioners as the County faces a $7 Million budget shortfall due to continued property devaluation.
Most of those attending pleaded not to close the libraries, community centers, and Bicentennial Pool or stop funding for programs such as 4-H within Extension Services.
A number of people indicated support for the County Administrator’s proposed revenue stabilization millage increase of .8063. The Director of Management and Budget Cathy Taylor provided a short power point on past, current and future funding and Property Appraiser Geoffrey Greene provided a matrix showing the estimated increases for four categories for homeowners.
Commissioners asked for this workshop to hear from the public as they consider whether to cut programs and services or raise the current millage rate.
No decision was made by the board, but all were very impressed with the turnout of the community, the civility of the crowd and the passion expressed by the speakers, many of which were young members of 4-H and the local swim teams.
Commissioner Rebecca Bays started the final comments by the board, “If we stay together, work together, we will be better. We have to look outside the box and find solutions we all agree with.”
Commissioner JJ Kenney was pleased with the turnout. “I was surprised and I really did not think that we would have gotten the support that was given by the community to raise the millage. You all made me proud.”
Quality of life is what Commissioner Dennis Damato says he knew the tone of the meeting would be, “It is so pleasant to hear from residents who appreciate staff who tries to keep your quality of life at reasonable rates.”
Commissioner Joe Meek said this was a great testament to this community on how much people care about the services, “For the individuals who addressed the board, public speaking ability is great and very impressive. You should be proud of yourselves.”
Chairman Winn Webb closed the meeting with this, “As far as this board goes, I have to quote Abraham Lincoln, “I can do anything I want to as long as the people want me to.”
The board is now waiting on finalized numbers of the Certification of Taxable Value which will arrive on July 1 from the Property Appraisers office. By statute, the County must set a millage rate within 35 days of the certification.