The Gilchrist County Commission held their second budget workshop on Monday afternoon, as the Finance Director reported Gilchrist County is working through a deficit as the budget has projected revenues of $21,300,000.
Everitt Heaton attended the workshop representing Gilchrist Leagues. The Vice President of the Recreation Program in Gilchrist County reported the program has had some upsetting times as the spring and some summer sports programs were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He told the Board that the youth that were signed up to participate in recreation programs were given program credit and will participate in recreation programs in the Fall of 2020. Heaton pointed out that the football program would be played on fields outside of Gilchrist County. The basketball programs, which have been played in Gilchrist County School District facilities, it is still uncertain where these kids will play basketball this upcoming year.
Heaton reported that the League’s finances have taken a hit during this time, but the sports programs will continue to serve all the kids of Gilchrist County.
“We have never denied a child to participate in the Gilchrist League Program because they were unable to pay the $75 entry fee. We make up our budget through concessions, and the many donations the program receives from organizations like Gilchrist County, the Gilchrist Rotary Club and others,” Heaton said.
The Commission thanked Gilchrist Leagues for providing sports programs to the youth of Gilchrist County.
The representative told the Commission that more and more residents of Gilchrist County are participating in the services that Meridian offers. He pointed out that the program is seeing an increase in children from Gilchrist County seeking Meridian services. Many of these children are below the poverty guideline.
The representative reported that Meridian is seeing a lot of new clients that are struggling with addictions in these times of uncertain futures. Opioid use addiction services are seeing an increase and Gilchrist County has many residents that are working with Meridian to help them with their addictions. Meridian requested a 2.1% increase in their annual budget from Gilchrist County.
The Commission thanked Patricia Knight for serving and representing the people of Gilchrist County in this needed services.
Damon Leggett, Gilchrist County Property Appraiser, addressed the Commission to discuss the budget needs in the Property Appraiser’s Office. He explained that the Property Appraiser’s office is seeking to upgrade their operating system to a web-based program. The current operating system has been in place since the mid 1970’s and the company that Gilchrist County is currently working with is a corporate out of state group that has been bought out several times and the future is very unclear on what they will offer tomorrow.
The new system will provide Gilchrist and ten other North Florida counties a more accessible, up to date operating system that is capable of growing with these counties for the future. Mr. Leggett pointed out that the operating system would require a 12.7% increase in the Operating Capital Outlay to get this new system in place.
Mr. Leggett reported that Gilchrist County is growing and the county will see a record increase in taxable value on the property tax roll this upcoming year.
Gilchrist County Tax Collector, Michael McElroy, reported to the Commission that the Operating Expenditures for the Tax Collector’s Office is increasing due to the expanded services of a new office in Bell. This office is now open on Wednesdays with one clerk providing services to the public. He explained that the public is catching on and they are seeing more and more customers each week come into the office.
Mr. McElroy pointed out that the new Tax Collector’s Trenton office is seeking a lot of customers, from both Gilchrist County and the surrounding areas, stop by the office for their driver’s license. He pointed out that the Driver’s license service issued 112 cards the first week the service was operational. The Tax Collector added that the busiest days seem to be Monday and Friday, but his staff is doing a good job working with the public to provide service to the community.
The Commission will hold additional budget workshops that will be open to the public in the near future. These dates and times of the meeting will be available on the County Commission website.