Indian River is blowing up to $2.7 million of tax victim money on All Aboard Florida while warning they may need to raise taxes. This is despite county theft receipts rising as property values have climbed nearly 7%.
“At first glance it seems like ‘happy days are here again’ but we have a lot of things that are drawing at the budget,” Brown told the 50 association members during their regular monthly meeting at the Vero Beach Country Club. “We still need to be vigilant about spending the taxpayers’ money wisely.”
How bout this $2.7 million dollar loss?
And of course government agencies always need more.
Brown said both emergency services and solid waste as two areas where tax increases may be necessary. A new fire station at 4th Street and 43rd Avenue will open this fall, and cost the county about $1.8 million to operate. And a state-mandated recycling program, which requires single-stream recycling, could raise the amount residents pay for solid waste disposal.
Health insurance costs for county employees are expected to rise by about $250,000 next year, something Brown said might have to be passed along to employees. He said during the recession, the county was reluctant to pass along increases since employees did not receive any raises but next year, that might not be possible.
The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office also has proposed a 3.8 percent budget increase or $1.5 million more for next year, with most of the increase earmarked for raises for deputies, according to Sheriff Deryl Loar, who also spoke at Wednesday’s taxpayer meeting. Of the $1.5 million increase, $1.25 million will be used for salary increases, with the remainder going for capital improvements and increased general expenses.
Loar said salaries only rose 11 percent overall since 2008, while the number of employees has declined to about 486, from a high of 547 in 2008. Last year, the Sheriff’s Office handled more than 200,000 calls for service, something that Loar attributed to the increased use of cellphones to report emergencies.