Leon County Commissioners talked over the preliminary budget Tuesday for the upcoming fiscal year.
St. Francis Wildlife Center won’t lose its county funding. Commissioners voted to continue funding the organization at the same $71,000 level as the current year. The move comes after county commissioners singled the organization out for a deeper look, which caused some heart burn for citizens. But Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley says asking questions about the organizations getting county funding is an important part of the process.
”We had a couple of good points here to discuss: whether we were overlapping with our own animal control responsibilities—I was glad to see they were quite different. I was also concerned although two-thirds of the calls for St. Francis wildlife are from within the city limits, we pay two-thirds of the cost of that,” Lindley says.
Commissioners also earmarked $200,000 for the TMH trauma center—that’s the same funding level the county provided for the trauma center this year. But Commissioner John Dailey says he’d like to begin phasing that funding out in the future.
“To expect a full $200,000 funding in the future is not necessarily guaranteed. And we will probably at least it is my interest to begin to reduce the amount in future funding budgets for our contribution to the trauma center,” Dailey says.
Commissioners say they appreciate the important work done by the TMH trauma center and view themselves as a partner with TMH. But Commissioner Kristen Dozier points $200,000 is a large piece of the county’s budget.
“TMH is providing an essential service regionally and a lot of the people regionally do support Leon County. They work here, they shop here, all those things. So this is a tricky one, because any funding does need to fit our policies and be a benefit to the taxpayers who contribut,” Dozier says.
Dozier says she likes the idea of continuing the funding this year and using that time to explore new funding options.
“I understand other surrounding counties may not be able to contribute. But if there are—and I know TMH has explored this option—but creative ways for the state, for others for Georgia, I think some folks use it from Georgia, to help with this,” Dozier says.
The county’s preliminary budget does not include any tax increases.