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Buzz2012 HIGH SPRINGS – It is almost a certainty that High Springs residents will not see an increase in city levied taxes this year.  Last year’s millage rate of 6.15 mills will likely be maintained into the 2012-2013 fiscal year, unless changes are made during the final workshop, scheduled for Thursday, Sept, 13 at 3 p.m. or the first public hearing, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. the same evening.

The City previously advertised a tax millage rate increase to 6.39 mills, but over the past few weeks the annual budget has been reduced by $507,000 to a new total of $6,166,805.  But the reductions are coming at a cost, as the commission slashed line item after line item of the original budget.

Although residents may not feel the pinch of higher taxes, they will notice an increase of $2 per month in the cost of solid waste pickup fees after Oct. 1.  The additional charge is expected to garner the City approximately $40,000, which will help offset the budget amount.

Changes residents will more likely notice include a possible four-day work week at City Hall as hourly employees may see their work week – and their pay – reduced from 40 to 32 hours weekly.  If that budget reduction plan stands, City Hall will likely be closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of each week.

The commission has requested High Springs Finance Director Helen McIver to show them various amounts of across-the-board hourly employee reductions while not increasing the total budget amount.

That request was made by Commissioner Linda Gestrin during the Tuesday, Sept. 11 special commission meeting following comments by Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas that he would like to see the part-time position in the city clerk’s office, previously cut from the budget, funded.  The position, presently filled by a temporary employee, would disappear as of Oct. 1.

If an across-the-board pay cut goes into effect, City Hall is expected to remain open a full work week, but hourly employees will be paid less per week.

The pay cut would not affect police, who are represented by the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), with a new contract currently being negotiated, but would affect all other hourly employees.  One option expected from McIver is the percentage of decrease in hourly wages needed to maintain fire and police at full-time status.

The City is also reducing expenses by replacing its current health insurance plan by offering employees a “barebones” policy with a $2,500 deductible and no prescription coverage.  In order to have a better plan with more coverage, employees would have to pay the difference between $290.41, which is the amount the City has budgeted per employee, and the cost of one of the other plans, which would be $40-$150 more per month per employee.

If the proposed budget is approved following the first and second public hearings on Sept. 13 and 24, employees will no longer have access to compensatory time or overtime pay as overtime pay was not budgeted.  Salaried employees are not eligible for overtime pay and are required to work until the job is done.

Gestrin, vowing to stop compensatory time accrual, spearheaded a motion to end an employee’s ability to obtain compensatory time as of the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, and specified employees must use any accumulated compensatory time prior to Jan. 1, 2013.

During the Sept. 6 special commission meeting, Barnas suggested that $10,000 be transferred from the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) fund to the City to pay for a half-time executive director at approximately $17.25 per hour.

Commissioners approved the transfer pending the CRA’s approval, which was obtained from CRA members at their meeting, held immediately thereafter.

For last minute updates on the final budget to be presented at the Sept.13 first public hearing, visit www.alachuacountytoday.com.

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Email Cwalker@Alachuatoday.com

Buzz2012 HIGH SPRINGS – It is almost a certainty that High Springs residents will not see an increase in city levied taxes this year.  Last year’s millage rate of 6.15 mills will likely be maintained into the 2012-2013 fiscal year, unless changes are made during the final workshop, scheduled for Thursday, Sept, 13 at 3 p.m. or the first public hearing, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. the same evening.

The City previously advertised a tax millage rate increase to 6.39 mills, but over the past few weeks the annual budget has been reduced by $507,000 to a new total of $6,166,805.  But the reductions are coming at a cost, as the commission slashed line item after line item of the original budget.

Although residents may not feel the pinch of higher taxes, they will notice an increase of $2 per month in the cost of solid waste pickup fees after Oct. 1.  The additional charge is expected to garner the City approximately $40,000, which will help offset the budget amount.

Changes residents will more likely notice include a possible four-day work week at City Hall as hourly employees may see their work week – and their pay – reduced from 40 to 32 hours weekly.  If that budget reduction plan stands, City Hall will likely be closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of each week.

The commission has requested High Springs Finance Director Helen McIver to show them various amounts of across-the-board hourly employee reductions while not increasing the total budget amount.

That request was made by Commissioner Linda Gestrin during the Tuesday, Sept. 11 special commission meeting following comments by Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas that he would like to see the part-time position in the city clerk’s office, previously cut from the budget, funded.  The position, presently filled by a temporary employee, would disappear as of Oct. 1.

If an across-the-board pay cut goes into effect, City Hall is expected to remain open a full work week, but hourly employees will be paid less per week.

The pay cut would not affect police, who are represented by the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), with a new contract currently being negotiated, but would affect all other hourly employees.  One option expected from McIver is the percentage of decrease in hourly wages needed to maintain fire and police at full-time status.

The City is also reducing expenses by replacing its current health insurance plan by offering employees a “barebones” policy with a $2,500 deductible and no prescription coverage.  In order to have a better plan with more coverage, employees would have to pay the difference between $290.41, which is the amount the City has budgeted per employee, and the cost of one of the other plans, which would be $40-$150 more per month per employee.

If the proposed budget is approved following the first and second public hearings on Sept. 13 and 24, employees will no longer have access to compensatory time or overtime pay as overtime pay was not budgeted.  Salaried employees are not eligible for overtime pay and are required to work until the job is done.

Gestrin, vowing to stop compensatory time accrual, spearheaded a motion to end an employee’s ability to obtain compensatory time as of the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30, and specified employees must use any accumulated compensatory time prior to Jan. 1, 2013.

During the Sept. 6 special commission meeting, Barnas suggested that $10,000 be transferred from the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) fund to the City to pay for a half-time executive director at approximately $17.25 per hour.

Commissioners approved the transfer pending the CRA’s approval, which was obtained from CRA members at their meeting, held immediately thereafter.

For last minute updates on the final budget to be presented at the Sept.13 first public hearing, visit www.alachuacountytoday.com.

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