CRESTVIEW — Emphasizing several times that it can be lowered during budget discussions, the City Council has voted to set a tentative millage rate of 5.8466.
The .25 percent increase will give the council leeway to produce a 2013-14 fiscal year budget that maintains services demanded by residents without becoming encumbered by a too-low tentative millage.
During the 3-1 vote Monday evening, Councilman Thomas Gordon voted "nay." Council President Robyn Helt was absent. Vice president Mickey Rytman conducted the meeting.
The increase from the current 5.5966 millage rate would provide an estimated $5,380,692 in revenue, a $218,574 increase over the current fiscal year, according to figures provided by Finance Director Patti Beebe.
By law, once a tentative millage rate is established, it can be reduced. However, it can only be increased after an expensive process of paying the county property appraiser to send out revised Truth in Millage, or TRIM, notices, as state statute requires.
The tentative millage rate discussion followed a report by the city's accountants, Carr, Riggs and Ingram, which stated Crestview's governmental operations had a $1.5 million deficit in the 2012 fiscal year.
The council promised a thorough revue of each department's proposed budget during the budgeting process in hopes of decreasing the tentative millage rate.
"We want to reiterate this is a tentative rate," Rytman said. "It can always go down, but it costs us to go up. We do not want to raise taxes. A lot of the council members want to dig deep in the budget and lower the amount of money we spend."
Gordon explained the situation.
"When you get less money to run your household, you either get a nighttime job or you cut the cable (TV) off," he said. "We need to cut the cable off."
The council unanimously set a public budget hearing for 5 p.m. Sept. 10 with the final meeting at 5 p.m. Sept. 24. By law, the budget must be passed before Oct. 1. Budget workshops will be scheduled at the council's July 22 meeting.
Want to go?
The Crestview City Council will set dates and times for budget workshops at its July 22 meeting at City Hall. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.