CCFC News “Other People’s Money”

on Saturday, 28 July 2018.

Hello Friends:

The annual budget process is a three step procedure.

  1. Finance, at the direction to the Clerk’s Office, requests all Department Heads and Constitutional Officers submit their budget requests by June first. They were further instructed not to request additional funds over last year’s approved budgets without appearing at the County Commission Meeting prior to the Budget Workshop.
  2. The actual two day budget workshop was held on July 19th and 20th. There were few, if any issues. The initially proposed millage rate of 6.3460 was more than the rollback rate of 6.1524. FYI the rollback millage rate is the rate that would bring in the same amount of ad valorem tax as the current year to fund the budget at this year’s funding level. At the conclusion of the Workshop, the millage rate was set at 6.2762. The additional proposed millage rate will bring in about $400,000 more Ad Valorem tax than last year and increase your taxes by an average of 2%. Your TRIM Notices will reflect this level of proposed spending.
  3. Two separate Budget Adoption Hearings will be held in September. Commissioners can lower the millage rate at these hearings, but they cannot raise them.

The several hundred page proposed budget was not available until a few hours before the Workshop and therefore no one did any detailed analysis of spending and any means of creating offsetting cost savings. I hope this was not by design. While the Ad Valorem tax is the most noticeable and talked about aspect of the budget, it is only a portion of the proposed $51 million plus budget. The county takes in millions of dollars in other taxes, grants and fees that are uncounted in favor of concentrating on the politically visible millage rate. Franklin County will take in hundreds of thousands of dollars more this coming year than during this current year not even counting ad valorem taxes. Yet, there is no discussion of what actually drives the need to raise taxes on people again this year, as has been done for the previous three years.

No one raised their hand to or suggested to staff to offset the increased spending with savings in other areas. To put this in perspective, a less than 1% cut in the budget would deliver no tax increase this year. Why not look for savings?

The budget buster this year was outgoing Commissioner Cheryl Sanders request for a 3% COLA this year instead of the 1.5% proposed by Finance. This will cost the county an additional $135,000 over Finance’s recommendation.

Afterwards, some of the other Commissioners told me they were not pleased, but the damage was done.

Between now and the Budget Adoption Hearings in September, we will review and study the budget document, looking for those savings. We will present them to the Board of Commissioners once again in the spirit of helpfulness for their consideration.

In addition to budget matters, the CCFC is also making a major push to have Franklin County follow State Law and provide the opportunity at all public meetings and workshops to address our Commissioners before they vote on specific issues as is required by law before a vote is taken. As of today, the Commission only allows onesided public statements to be made at the beginning of County Commission meetings, and there is no comment or action currently allowed by Commissioners during that time. More than one person has taken their time to come to a meeting to offer input into an agenda item and only been given a perfunctory “Thank You” as their only acknowledgment. This is extremely disheartening to someone who believes in good democratic government and the right of the people to seek a response from their elected leaders.

The CCFC has sent to all Commissioners copies of the Public Engagement Policies from Wakulla and Gulf Counties which codify the right of individuals to speak to their Commissioners at various times during a meeting, and most importantly, before a vote is taken on an issue of personal concern. We have asked Commissioners to broaden their current policy and engage their electorate in the proper manner and with respect and patience. We believe that should be their job.

The CCFC would like to remain positive and upbeat concerning the public’s chances of being treated fairly. Sadly, not all Commissioners buy in to the concept of public involvement and as a consequence, we frequently arrive at an adversarial position. We are not convinced that Commissioners really appreciate the obvious…that it’s not their money, but yours. Let’s hold them accountable and remind them from time to time, and while we are at it, let’s remind them that the best interests of Franklin County’s people and not narrow special interests must always come first.

I’d love to hear your opinions as well. Please call or write us if you have comments.

Thank you for your support of the CCFC. Some of our readers have not paid their 2018 dues yet. Please remember us if you can. Not a member? No problem, click on... Join today. We depend on your support!

Thank you!


Allan J. Feifer
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(850) 653-5571

“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Cheryl Sanders - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 697-2534

Chairman-Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Commissioner Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861