By DOTTY NIST
There will be no increase in Walton County’s millage rate for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
On Sept. 10, at the first of two budget hearings to take place in 2012, county commissioners set a preliminary millage rate and budget for the new fiscal year.
The hearing, which took place at the South Walton Annex, was well attended by county staff, but almost no citizens were present.
The commissioners voted to set the preliminary countywide millage rate at 3.5563 mills, the same rate as for the 2011-12 fiscal year, and at 0.4912 mills for the North Walton Mosquito Control District, also the same rate as for the current fiscal year.
One mill equals one dollar on each $1,000 of taxable property value.
The millage rates set represent a 1.28-percent decrease below the rolled-back rate, the rate that would essentially generate the same ad valorem tax revenue that was generated last year.
The commissioners set a preliminary total budget of slightly more than $97 million, representing an increase of slightly more than $3.5 million over the total budget for current fiscal year.
Included in the budget is a 3-percent cost of living increase for county employees and employees of the county’s constitutional officers, those employees’ first “take-home” salary increase since 2007.
Interim County Administrator Gerry Demers told the commissioners that there had been only two changes to the budget since it was presented at the county’s July 12 budget workshop. One was the addition of one full-time employee, an additional code enforcement officer who is to work under the South Walton Tourist Development Council to enforce county ordinances on the beach. The other change was the allocation of $45,000 to fund the upgrading of Walton County Fire Rescue’s radio system in order to meet state requirements.
No one came forward to provide public comment, and the BCC votes to set the preliminary millage rate and budget were unanimous.
With the setting of the preliminary millage rate, no increase in the rate for for 2012-13 fiscal year is possible, although it would be possible for the BCC to reduce the rate.
A second and final budget hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Walton County Courthouse in DeFuniak Springs.
Information on the budget is available on Walton County’s web site, www.co.walton.fl.us, under the heading “Departments,” by selecting “Finance” and then “Budgets.”