110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Sep 2, 2014 - 11:31:08am
At a public hearing Thursday, Sept. 4, the Volusia County Council will vote on the county budget for fiscal year 2014-15, which begins Oct. 1.
The operations budget calls for spending $628.3 million. That’s $31.2 million or 5.2 percent higher than the budget adopted for the current fiscal year.
Of concern to most Volusians are their property taxes that help fund services. The proposed budget keeps the same general-fund millage rate as the current year — 6.3189 mills, or $6.32 in tax per $1,000 of assessed property value — to generate $150.4 million in revenue.
Because property values have gone up, that unchanged tax rate will bring in more money. The county expects to get $11.1 million more than it got from property taxes this year. That increase is needed to maintain service levels, according to the budget report.
When other taxes are added in — for library services, Volusia Forever, Mosquito Control, the Municipal Services District, the Fire Services District, and a few others, the total county millage is 7.4295, down slightly from the current 7.4415 millage, thanks to decreased spending by the Volusia Forever program and Mosquito Control.
County staff's report notes that a grand total of only $217.3 million will come from ad valorem (property) taxes. Of that, $5.5 million is distributed to cities for community redevelopment areas (CRAs).
Other county income comes from permits, fees, intergovernmental revenues such as gas taxes, sales taxes and other federal and state revenues, along with charges for services like license plates and building permits.
A big chunk of the budget comes from the fund balance, or carry-over, which accounts for $195.88 million of the budget. That amount is $12.6 million above the current year’s carry-over.
After five consecutive years of declining values, property values have increased for the second year in a row.
"Countywide value increased 6.2 percent to $25.6 billion," the report states. That's still below the $29.8 billion level of fiscal year 2005-06.
One of the thorniest issues facing the County Council is how to either provide more funds for Fire Services, or reduce funding and staffing for fire and emergency-medical calls.
In July, the County Council voted to raise the millage for Fire Services by 35 cents, from the originally proposed $3.63 to $3.98 per $1,000 of taxable property value.
Later, the County Council voted to nix the increase, since there would not be enough time to educate the voters on the need for an increase before finalizing the budget.
The budget hearing is scheduled for 5:02 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, in the Frank T. Bruno Jr. County Council Chambers in the Thomas C. Kelly Administration Center at 123 W. Indiana Ave. in DeLand. Public comment will be taken.
The budget is available for review online at www.volusia.org.
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