Lee County commissioners will hold their final public hearing on the budget for the coming year. They are expected to approve a final document that takes effect Oct. 1.
"This has been by far the toughest year I have experienced as a county commissioner," said Ray Judah, a 22-year veteran in the job. "The budget has been very difficult. But we are cutting spending, we are putting employees on furlough days, we are hearing the plea that times are hard for people, and we all must adjust to these adverse conditions. We also are using reserves to ease the impact, so we can still provide core services to the public."
Judah did say that residents may notice a lower level of maintenance on some county roads and in the parks, as a result of budget cuts.
In addition, the tax rate was expected to stay the same: 3-dollars and 65 cents per one-thousand dollars of taxable property.
Homeowner Don Busch says it's not enough. "I would like to see them cut taxes, we need tax relief. We are under pressure on income from every turn. These levels of government do not seem to fully get it. We need relief, and there is some outrage out there I think," Busch said.
The commissioners were set to talk about a budget that cuts 30-million in spending, and uses 38-million in reserves. Those actions would make up the nearly 70-million dollar shortfall.
Commissioner Judah says Lee is prepared to use more reserves to balance budgets for the next 3 years. "We can do that without depleting the reserves," Judah said. However, some of his colleagues may disagree with that plan.
Commissioners are supposed to start tearing into the following year's possible budget in November.