Tallahassee commissioners tentatively passed a budget Wednesday. Officials will take a final vote on the spending plan September 28.
Commissioners approved a final dollar amount and property tax rate for the upcoming budget, but not before making a few tweaks. Robert Wiggen, who presented the budget Wednesday, says one of those changes includes adding another $500,000 from the city’s discretionary fund to cover Hermine cleanup efforts.
“All of our efforts will be focused on obtaining reimbursements, but if there’s any interim support that’s needed for a project, we’d recommend including that in the budget for this upcoming fiscal year,” Wiggen said
Another change deals with North Florida Legal Services. Director Leslie Powell spoke before the commission Wednesday asking a renewal of funds the organization received in the last fiscal year. Powell says the fund will help people who can’t otherwise afford a lawyer.
“You’ve heard from me on crime statistics and lots of things and I thought I’d try to tell our story a little differently tonight. Imagine that you’re denied a job or housing because of an error in your credit report or your criminal record. Imagine that your spouse has abused you but you can’t get a divorce or address custody because you can’t afford a lawyer. Imagine that you’re in 3rd grade. You love your teachers. You love your school. All your friends are there. But because of an unlawful eviction you’re forced to move across town and lose that educational benefit that you were receiving,” Powell said.
And Commissioner Gil Ziffer says he considers North Florida Legal Services vitally important. He says he’s received calls and sent constituents to the organization himself.
“This is one of those ones and I know last year we said that was it, but I’m going to suggest that we fund them again this year. I know they’ve got to find another funding source, but I can’t imagine up turning away that many folks that need their help,” Ziffer said.
The board approved $50,000 for the organization. Commissioners also passed a slightly reduced property tax rate from 4.2 to 4.1 mills. Officials expect that to equal about a million dollars in savings for property owners across Tallahassee.