LIVE OAK — The Live Oak City Council unanimously approved not changing its millage rate at last week’s tentative budget hearing.
The council approved a millage rate of 9.1771 mills, the same as the current rate, during the hearing Sept. 10, and also unanimously passed its budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20 of $26.4 million. The city’s final budget hearing is Monday at 5:30 p.m.
That millage rate was set as the city’s maximum at a July meeting and was what the city proposed for the next budget year. While it is the same rate as the current rate, it is 1.88 percent above the rollback rate of 9.0078, or the tax rate that would generate the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year’s rate.
That increase would generate approximately an additional $36,000, according to City Manager Ron Williams and Finance Director Joanne Luther.
“That’s the same as it was last year, no increase,” Council President Mark Stewart said.
Williams said the $26.4 million budget did include a 1 percent merit raise for all city employees, which is based on the city’s evaluation process. There is no cost of living raise included for employees next year.
In addition to the merit raises, Williams said the budget also included one additional staff position. Following the advice of the city’s auditor, Williams said he would like to add an accounting position to backup Luther.
“She has done a phenomenal job but we know that in all of our critical areas, there needs to be succession opportunities and training and opportunities for others to learn,” he said. “Additionally, we thought there was a need to have some of the critical knowledge in the area of finance…Hopefully that person will grow in addition to being of assistance on a day-to-day basis but also grow to be able to master what we need in terms of the finance department going forward in the future.”
Williams said the budget also called for continued support to Heritage Park & Gardens ($15,000) as well as the Suwannee County Historical Commission and museum ($3,000).
Williams also told the council that the city’s contract with Jacobs to handle the city’s public works services expires next September. During negotiations on a new contract, Williams said the city would also look into possible cost savings as it relates to lawn maintenance in residential areas.