The sheriff had requested funding from Palm Coast for 10 deputies.
Palm Coast's City Council members would like to lower the property tax rate slightly for the coming year but increase funding for law enforcement, echoing in an Aug. 24 budget workshop sentiments voiced a week before by their counterparts on the County Commission, who hope to do the same thing.
Because property values have increased since last year, if the council were to hold the tax rate steady, the same rate would bring in a higher dollar amount of tax revenue than the city received last year.
Council members on Aug. 24 considered a proposed $247.7 million city budget that would include funding for six new Sheriff’s Office deputies. The sheriff had requested funding from Palm Coast for 10 deputies, and from Flagler County for another 15 deputies.
Mayor David Alfin asked a city staff member at the meeting how the administration had come settled on six as the number for new sheriff’s deputies: The council itself hadn’t specifically determined a number. The answer was that the city administration had looked at projected revenue estimates and calculated that it could afford six. Adding four more would cost an extra $456,000.
“I would very much like to see us reduce the millage rate modestly due to the economic circumstances of the present moment,” Alfin said, “... and increase the number of sheriff’s deputies that we can find room for in our budget.”
He asked city staff to take another look at the way the city is handling its reserves, to ensure that it’s not being overly conservative.
“I agree 100% with your comments,” Councilman Ed Danko said. “I do believe we need to increase our deputy sheriffs, and I do believe we need to roll back this millage rate a bit.” He noted that the administration’s proposed budget includes many new hires. “That may be a place to start,” he said.
Councilman Barbosa agreed.
Councilman Branquinho was the only councilman to explicitly oppose a millage rate decrease, suggesting that the $20 or so it would save homeowners on their tax bills may be outweighed by the city services that would be lost without that tax revenue.