Monday, September 28, 2009

Schools and Vegetables

Throughout Leon County, teachers and students are seeing the impact of the 4 percent cuts each school had to make to their budgets. Teachers like Long wonder when they will be able to buy more books. Other schools need technology upgrades or added hours for teachers to be able to better serve students.

The Legislature passed the added property tax to help districts in Florida offset budget cuts; and that is exactly what Superintendent Jackie Pons intends ...

Vegetable specialist covers a lot of turf
Naples Daily News
By then they hope the state budget will improve, making more money available to the University of Florida. “With the budget crisis, every position that ...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Salaries Incommensurate with Economic Crater

Ernst: Salary reviews should be routine

A police captain in Venice makes $103,750 a year. The deputy finance director makes $96,096. A parks foreman makes $60,623.

Last week, as the Venice City Council prepared for a final vote on next year's budget, a list of 56 nonunion salaries made the rounds among the citizenry. People always love to know what others earn, but Mike Rafferty had another reason for circulating the salary chart obtained by the Venice Taxpayers League.

He did not want the council to raise his property tax rate. He pointed to the salaries as an example of spending that is out of whack with what the public can afford. And he suggested that the council cut salaries before it raises taxes. More...

Regional GDP Plummets and more hot topics

Region's GDP drops severely

Published: Friday, September 25, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 5:52 p.m.

The Great Recession and housing downturn took a considerable bite out of gross domestic product in Southwest Florida, reversing a course of large growth starting in 2006.

The data released Thursday from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics might be the broadest measure to date of the pain. GDP is the total market values of goods and services produced by workers and capital within a area's borders within a year.

From 2005 to 2006, the Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice area's GDP rose 7.4 percent, or about $1.7 billion, to $24.66 billion.

But things started sliding in 2007 and by 2008, GDP had slipped $836 million, or about 3.4 percent, to $23.83 billion from its peak.

County passes $400.8M budget
Tampa Tribune
To save more money, commissioners had already approved reductions in the mosquito control budgetand voted to cancel membership in the Florida Association ...
Orange OKs $3.1 Billion Budget, Jail Critics Sound Off
Orlando Sentinel
No residents complained tonight when Orange County leade

Brantley hires Florida man to be new manager
Florida Times-Union
Barwick, 45, will face a daunting list of problems that plague the rural county, from a $3 million budget deficit to washboard dirt roads to overflowing ...

Miami-Dade County cultural groups await details of budget cuts
BY HOWARD COHEN, ALEXANDRA MARTINEZ AND LOLA DUFFORT Hundreds of cultural and arts groups were spared from being axed out of the county's budget. ...
South Miami sets lower tax rate
According to the county property appraiser's office, taxable values in the city have dropped 9.3 percent. A budget of about $19.2 million -- $433000 less ...

No tax break for some despite declining property values
Crestview News Bulletin (blog)
At issue is the “recapture rule,” a little-known regulation adopted by the Florida Department of Revenue in 1995 that only applies to homesteaded properties ...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Closely contested budget issues

Counties take different roads on employees, budget cuts

While high-ranking government employees in Miami-Dade have scored major pay raises despite the county’s financial woes, Broward and Palm Beach counties are taking a much different tack.

No one earning more than $100,000 a year in Broward government will receive a raise this year and must take a five-day unpaid furlough along with all other county workers. No raises are planned for top administrators in Palm Beach County either, and that county isn’t doing furloughs.

Ultimately, final budget refutes Alvarez
When Carlos Alvarez unveiled ``his'' proposed budget in July it was an end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it document. About 1700 county jobs would be cut, ...
County leaders receiving raises amid budget cuts
FORT MYERS: At a time of budget cuts and salary freezes, some of our top leaders in Lee County are actually getting raises. From the sheriff to county ...
Elections boss can't find any more budget cuts
Tampa Tribune
Commissioner Jeff Stabins said efforts are under way by upper county management to reduce Williams'budget and they will find places to cut by Thursday's ...
Collier County sheriff shoulders tough load shoulders load
The News-Press
by chris umpierre • • September 23, 2009 With each press conference, the bags under Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk's eyes ...
Firefighters plead, but county OKs budget cuts
Gainesville Sun
Alachua County firefighters and supporters hold signs in protest of budget cuts for firefighters outside the County Administration building at the ...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Budget Issues around the State

Palm Beach County commission hikes property tax rate 15 percent
County budget planners blamed the tax rate increase on a need to compensate for a drop in tax revenue stemming from the struggling economy. ...

County budget
has $12.5 million in cuts, layoffs
Clay Today
Even more disturbing is the economic crisis Behring says the county will face for fiscal year 2010-2011. He said Florida's housing industry has been among ...

Miami-Dade County Commission approves $7.4B budget
Zikkir World (blog)
Jack Russell and a handful of others used the funding of the $640 million ballpark for the FloridaMarlins as a touchstone for their anger. The county took ...
County Should Help Fill Clinic's Shortfall, Panel Recommends
The Ledger
By Robin Williams Adams BARTOW | Central Florida Health Care should get $225000 from countyindigent-care funds to partially offset a shortfall at its ...

Ford, Foster outline their plans for spending tax dollars more wisely
Citrus County moved to a form of zero-based budgeting in 2008. A third of the county's budget is closely scrutinized every year. "It helps you prioritize," ...

Water wars
The News Herald
That population growth demanded broader county operations; the county's budget has grown from $89 million in 1989 to $294 million for 2010. ...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Around the state

County Budget Fight a Battle Royale
NBC Miami
By TODD WRIGHT With more than $444 million in deficits facing the county, everything and everyone will be a target going into tonight's final budget hearing ...

Editorial: FYI, Martin County taxpayers; another proposed 'fee ...
The courts in Martin County, just like the courts in every other Florida county, are essentially state operations. The lion's share of the fines collected ...

Collier school board votes to raise tax rates
Naples Daily News
The issue brought many questions from Collier County residents before the School Board held its finalbudget hearing Thursday evening. ...

Miami-Dade County highest spender in lobbying US
The county's spending, though, may be cut back. The County Commission Thursday is prepared to pass a budget that caps the county's federal lobbying budget ...

Clerk's office abolishing 44 positions
Tampa Tribune
BY CARL ORTH NEW PORT RICHEY - A budget upheaval continues to reshape the staff at the PascoCounty Office of Clerk and Comptroller, where 44 jobs will end ...

Windfall restores county services for 2010 fiscal year
Tampa Tribune
County officials had already factored a $1.2 million rebate into the fiscal 2010 budget, which takes effect Oct. 1. The last-minute injection of $3 million ...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FGCU cuts - and Philly Library Shut

FGCU cuts spending in order to come in under budget
Naples Daily News
By LESLIE WILLIAMS LEE COUNTYBudget directors braced for stormy financial seas at FloridaGulf Coast University are reporting smooth sailing so far early ...

In Philadelphia:
All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch, Regional and Central Libraries Closed Effective Close of Business October 2, 2009

All Free Library of Philadelphia Customers,

We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009. More...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Taxes and Budges

County tax rate stays nearly put
By Bill Thompson Marion County commissioners tentatively passed a $594 million budget for the new fiscal year on Thursday, but not before getting an earful ...
Miami Shores sets higher preliminary tax rate
The tentative tax rate can be decreased during the budget process, which lasts through September, but cannot be increased, according to Florida law. ...

Funding Cuts Leave Area Colleges Gasping
Washington Post
The University of Maryland Baltimore County is cutting positions. And Virginia's state universities are coping with furloughs for the first time in recent ...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sarasota County Budget Hearing 9.14

September 14, 2009

7:00 p.m.





Jon Thaxton, Chair, District 5

Joseph A. Barbetta, Vice Chair, District 2

Carolyn J. Mason, District 1

Shannon Staub, District 3

Nora Patterson, District 4




Public hearing to consider Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 Proposed Millage Rates and Tentative Budgets for Sarasota County, and the final adoption and certification of the FY 2010 Non-Ad Valorem Assessment Rates and Assessment Rolls.




OPEN TO THE PUBLIC - (Three-minute time limit per person/per meeting.)


Individuals with disabilities needing assistance to participate in any of these proceedings should contact County Administration at least three (3) working days in advance of the meeting date and time at (941) 861-5344.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Budget decisions, decisions

School board nixes millage increase
Daily Commercial
Still, the community was divided over whether to compromise the county's learning environment or its residents' ability to survive in one of Florida's ...

Fort Lauderdale's proposed budget
By Brittany Wallman South Florida Sun-Sentinel Operating budget: $327.5 million, for city services such as police, fire and parks. ...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

From boom to reality?

Unfinished projects part of real estate collapse

Unfinished buildings, dead dogs, foreclosures, code violations, skeletons of commercial dreams, condos becoming homeless camps. More...

Published: Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 7:54 p.m.

The American dream of home ownership is still attainable. Buyers just have to deal with a new set of realities. More...

Around the State Today

Despite Stimulus, Education Suffers Cuts
CBS News
But that state is still reeling from an anticipated a $26 billion budget deficit, and teachers who had been rehired may face more pink slips. In Florida ...

Budget crunch forcing schools to cut, become creative
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

... of Palm Beach County in Florida is closing because of budgetary problems, examples abound of day schools struggling at the start of the academic year. ...
See all stories on this topic
Commissioners vote to approve 15 percent tax increase
County critics say the budget squeeze blamed on the declining economy could have been lessened by better management of revenues during South Florida's ...
See all stories on this topic
County may eliminate 199 more jobs
Florida Today
BY RICK NEALE • FLORIDA TODAY • September 9, 2009 Brevard County's next fiscal budget may include $40 million in spending cuts and elimination of 199 jobs, ...

Miami mayor's budget proposal puts the onus on unions
Also on the mayor's hit list: Increased parking fees, changing weekly bulk garbage pickup to monthly, and hikes in various fees like Florida Power & Light's ...

City of Sarasota's Proposed Budget

This link will take you to the City of Sarasota's proposed 2009-1010 Capital Improvement Plan. The next budget hearing is Sept. 21, at 6 pm, at City Hall.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tepid article describes stalemate

Business stimulus stalled in state

- Eight months after vowing to spend $10 million in state money to "plant the seeds" to create new jobs, an economic stimulus program initiated by Gov. Charlie Crist has yet to hand out a dime.

Around the state: Tax Increases

Schools Aided by Stimulus Money Still Facing Cuts
New York Times
Florida's second-largest system, Broward County Schools, laid off 400 teachers, but aided by stimulus money, rehired more than 100. ...

Property Tax Increase Could Be On The Way
A week from today, the Escambia County School Board is looking at a millage rate increase that would be the second highest in Florida. ...

Despite pleas, county oks higher tax rate
The DeLand-Deltona Beacon
The second and final public hearing on the county's budget and tax rates is set for 6 pm Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Thomas C. Kelly County Administration ...

Budget woes may shut 4-H
Miami-Dade would be only the second county to cut ties with 4-H in Florida, according to Marilyn Norman, 4-H state leader in Gainesville. ...

Near the bottom in education funding

Education burden shifted to property owners
Florida continues to rank near the bottom of all states in per-pupil funding.
Gainesville Sun

lawmakers have shifted the responsibility of paying for K-20 education - kindergarten through college - to property owners.

Of all the state's general revenues - which include sales tax and fees - education's share declined from 61.5 percent in 1984-85 to 50.5 percent in 2005-06.

Looking at just the education budget: In 1985, state sales taxes and fees paid 65 percent of the cost of public education. Now, sales taxes and fees pay only 47 percent. The rest comes from property taxes. more...
See also:
Tourism board advising Collier commission to cut county museum funding
Naples Daily News
“They are cutting back on people and everything else to keep the county budget balanced.” The Marco Island museum is slated to get $80000 next year for ...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Power vacuum and round-up

Miami-Dade commissioners keep taxes flat
During their first budget hearing, Miami-Dade County commissioners voted early Friday morning to cap property taxes at last year's rate, creating a $444 ...

Most programs, not all, get their county funding
Gainesville Sun
Among the agencies that did not qualify was Easter Seals of Florida for the Altrusa House, a day-care center for frail seniors and adults with disabilities ...

Tax battle leaves residents, officials weary
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Volusia is the only Florida county with three separate hospital taxing authorities, and the rates in East Volusia rival what many Central Florida residents ...

Florida Lacks Clout in Congress
The Ledger
Lawton Chiles chaired the Senate Budget Committee. Today, several members of Florida's delegation, including Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, ...

In the House of Representatives, where constant turnover has depleted the state's seniority, not one of the 25-member Florida delegation is in a major leadership position or chairs a single committee from which legislation such as health care reform is being constructed.

The lack of seniority exists for three reasons:

The first might best be described as wanderlust. Like the state's transient population, Florida's political leaders are known as much for moving on as they are for moving up.

An even bigger factor in Florida's high turnover is that the state's rapid population growth has weakened the power of incumbency.

Finally, Florida may have suffered as much as anything by placing its bets on the wrong partisan horse.

Through redistricting, Florida's Republican-dominated Legislature has created Republican districts.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Around the State

Fla. expected to face more financial woes
Florida's current budget of $66.5 billion is about $5 billion less than the one Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law two years ago. ...

Clerks of court deal with budget cuts
Bradenton Herald
By CARL MARIO NUDI - MANATEE — Just as the other 66 Florida countyclerks of the court, Mana- tee County Clerk of the Court RB “Chips” ...

Tight budget, higher property tax rate for Broward schools
About 15 people attended the hearing, though only a few spoke -- mostly about the worst-case-scenario notices they received from the Broward County property ...

Commissioners to ask state to cut tax collector's budget
The Northwest Florida Daily News
Okaloosa County commissioners will send a letter detailing their objections to Tax Collector Chris Hughes' budget to the state Department of Revenue, ...

Brevard school budget OK'd
Florida Today
BY MEGAN DOWNS • FLORIDA TODAY • September 4, 2009 The Brevard County School Board approved an operating budget Thursday night that's down about 6 percent ...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tax appeals coming

In Miami Dade:

More than 4,100 people have visited the county property appraiser’s office to discuss their notices. An additional 10,600 calls have been logged with the county regarding preliminary tax notices. Property owners in Miami-Dade have until Sept. 18 to file appeals.

Thousands appeal property taxes as budget hearings near
In Broward County, which is facing a $23 million budget deficit, 5291 petitions for appeal have been filed with the value adjustment board. ...

Cut, cut, cut
24: Florida's jobless rate hit 8.1 percent in December, the highest since September 1992. Today, as the County Commission takes up Mr. Alvarez's budget

Top 20 execs at Jackson to volunteer for pay cuts
Jackson leaders seek a solution to budget woes as county commissioners question why the hospital system needs more than 100 highly paid executives. ...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

As Florida goes, so goes the Nation

States across the nation pinch their pennies to save athletics
USA Today
Nearby Loudoun County, with 10 high schools, instituted a $100 fee to play sports. Money is for general budget shortfall not specific to athletic budget. ...

Behind Florida's Exodus: Rising Taxes, Political Ineptitude
One thing, for instance, would be to give a dozen top aides hefty raises while urging a rise in property taxes, as the Mayor of Miami-Dade County recently ...

Schools look to teacher furloughs to trim budgets
The Associated Press
But furloughs are happening in individual districts in states such as New Mexico,Florida and California, said Ed Muir, deputy director of research and ...

License and registration, PLEASE!
Higher tag fees, raised by the Florida Legislature to address a budget deficit, take effect today. The Associated Press TALLAHASSEE - Driver license, ...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Music Programs Cut

The three-week June music festival will be on hiatus in 2010 "as we re-evaluate its mission, format and structure in light of the current economy," Orchestra Board Chairman Virginia Toulmin said in a statement.

The 45-year-old Sarasota Music Festival has temporarily fallen victim to the economy as its parent organization, the Sarasota Orchestra, looks for ways to cut costs while protecting its core programming and local educational outreach.

The suspension of the festival is one of several cost-cutting measures announced Monday by the orchestra. More...

With the economy squeezing grants, government funding and corporate and individual gifts, the orchestra had to rely on almost half of its emergency reserves — a total of $515,000 — just to get through last season, McKenna said. This has been the first time during his nearly nine years with the organization that he’s had to tap into reserves.