Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pay Raises a Casualty in Orange Park; 'Misunderstanding' on Utility Fee Necessitates Late Cuts in Budget

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Pay Raises a Casualty in Orange Park; 'Misunderstanding' on Utility Fee Necessitates Late Cuts in Budget

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

After last-minute cuts that included some employee pay raises, the Orange Park Town Council approved a 2013-14 budget late Tuesday of almost $23 million.

The council also decided to seek somebody local to succeed retiring Town Manager Cindy Hall rather than launch an expensive national search.

The cuts became necessary after a projected revenue source - $500,000 from a proposed JEA electric franchise fee increase - fell through a few days before the council was to take a final vote on the budget. The council also used reserves to close the budget gap.

The budget and the property tax rate that will help fund it were tentatively adopted in August. The budget and tax rate had been advertised in local publications and in notices sent to taxpayers, as was the Tuesday date of the final public hearing and budget vote.

Under state law, the tax rate cannot be increased - even to fill a sudden budget gap - after being tentatively set. State law also requires local governments to have balanced budgets by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

"This is a train wreck," said Councilman Steve Howard.

So at a meeting that ran from 7 p.m. to midnight, the council reviewed 16 budget cuts proposed by Hall and received public comment on each of them.

16 CUTS REVIEWED

Among the cuts were 3 percent cost-of-living salary increases for about 20 nonunion town employees, who had not received pay raises in five years. Mayor Jim Renninger said Wednesday that he hoped the council is able to implement the raise later in the fiscal year.

A 1.5 percent salary increase that had been negotiated with the laborers union remained in the budget. Negotiations are still underway with unions that represent police and fire employees. They requested raises and the town requested reduction in pension costs; Hall said she hoped the outcome of the two issues would result in savings.

Renninger said revenues are likely to improve. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.