The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners met virtually to adopt the fiscal year (FY) 2021 $460,311,267 budget. The budget is 2.6 percent lower than last year’s budget and includes a certified aggregate millage rate of 3.3435, which is less than originally estimated in July 2020 of 3.3602. The budget includes the Board of County Commissioners, the constitutional officers (sheriff, supervisor of election, clerk of court, and property appraiser), the Tourist Development Council, capital projects, and reserves.
Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi and Budget and Finance Director Tina Boan presented the budget for discussion and in relation to COVID-19 that included residential real estate trends, taxable property values, sales taxes and state shared revenues, along with fund balance, reserves, and the general fund.
“Since I have been with the County, we have met rollback six out of the 12 budgets. This year, it just isn’t feasible with the uncertainty,” said Gastesi. “This is, by far, the most difficult and uncertain budget we have presented. We will continue to monitor revenue and save money with expenditure reductions, while staying fiscally conservative.”
Due to COVID-19, immediate action was taken within the County to identify, analyze, and estimate potential shortages and at-risk revenue sources. The County immediately instituted a hiring and purchasing freeze and furloughed employees who did not have work due to the county closures. The County also suspended discretionary spending and unnecessary travel and deferred work wherever possible. County staff made cuts to make up for shortfalls, including the elimination of 42 positions plus five contracted positions. There will also be no cost of living increases or merit raises for staff.
Many capital projects will also be pushed into the next two to five years. The commissioners will set a special workshop in November to discuss future capital and pilot projects. The commissioners also approved agreements with local non-profit human service organizations, Monroe Council of the Arts, Historic Florida Keys Foundation, and two agreements with the Guidance Care Center for substance abuse mental health and the jail in-house program.
With this budget, a homesteaded residential property with an assessed appraised value of $389,026 in 2021 (with a 2.3 percent capped increase to property value from the previous year, average taxable value) would have a $19.25 increase for the year, or $1.60 a month. Along the same lines, a non-homesteaded property with a $620,248 (average taxable) value in 2021 would increase to $139.73 per year and commercial properties with a $1.124 million (average taxable) value would be $253.24 per year.
The Monroe County Office of Budget and Finance provides coordination and development of the fiscal year budget. The FY 2020 budget was $472.7 million, which included continued Hurricane Irma recovery. The office continues to work on receiving refunds from FEMA from the impacts of Hurricane Irma and now COVID-19, while still providing for the daily operations of the department, program enhancements, and capital projects and improvements.