Posted On: September 15, 2020
The budget and tax rates to fund county government’s operations for the next fiscal year are one step closer to final adoption following a public hearing Tuesday evening in front of the Volusia County Council.
Tuesday’s preliminary action by the council approving an $821 million operating budget included going to the rolled-back rate or even lower for nine out of the 10 property taxes that help fund the county’s services. The second public hearing and final vote on the budget are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
One of the largest portions of the proposed budget is the General Fund. At $309.2 million, it finances services that the county provides for all of Volusia. At 5.45 mills, the proposed countywide General Fund property tax rate for the next fiscal year is lower than the current year’s rate of 5.59 mills. With the reduction in the other county tax rates, which include the fire rescue fund, library fund, municipal service district (MSD), Silver Sands-Bethune Beach MSD, Volusia Forever operating and debt service, ECHO, Ponce De Leon Inlet Port Authority fund and East Volusia Mosquito Control District, the result will be a decrease in the portion of residents’ tax bills that support county government. The county was able to reduce the tax rates in spite of the fiscal challenges associated with the downturn in sales tax and gas tax revenues caused by the pandemic and implementation of Amendment 10.
“To have all but one item at rolled back or lower, out of the ten items where we set the tax rate, is phenomenal,” said County Chair Ed Kelley.
Some of the highlights of the budget plan include funding for pay-as-you-go capital improvement projects, such as a new medical examiner’s facility and money to remodel and expand Fire Station 15 at Tiger Bay Road in Daytona Beach and renovate Fire Station 22 in Oak Hill. There’s also money in the new budget to increase the number of hours for the county’s innovative E-911 nurse triage re-direct program, which has helped improve EMS service in the county. Funds also are being budgeted for next year for various transportation projects, dune walkovers and off-beach parking in anticipation of the completion of Dahlia Park as well as planned upgrades to the beach ramps at International Speedway Boulevard and Silver Beach Avenue.
A total of five new positions are being proposed in the new budget, including an added position in Veterans Services to assist with the growing caseload of clients as well as an additional position for Environmental Management.
“By really any measure or metric, this is a very responsible and very fiscally conservative budget,” said County Manager George Recktenwald. “It holds the line on taxes and still meets the service needs of our residents.”