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Chiefland meets on budget Monday

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

The Chiefland City Commission has its second annual budget meeting, which is open to the public, Monday night immediately after the regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
The city is facing serious financial issues due to a number of factors, though the biggest stem from falling property values and tax cuts approved by the commission during the last five budget cycles. During that period, the city lost out on about $457,000 by not adopting rollback rates that would have kept taxes in pace with falling values, according to city staff.
To make up for what it wasn't taking in as tax revenue, the city began depleting its reserves, which, eventually, resulted in cuts to various departments, including police and fire rescue services.
At Monday's meeting, commissioners are expected to vote on a tentative millage rate. The rate can be lowered in later meetings, though staff has suggested starting with the maximum allowed rollback rate of 6.8984 mills.
A mill represents $1 of every $1,000 of assessed property value, which, at 6.8984 mills, means a person owning a home and property worth $100,000 after exemptions would pay about $690 in taxes — about $215 more than residents have paid with tax rates the last few years.
Staff says this could provide a $222,000 cushion to put in the bank or use toward unexpected expenses.
"This higher millage will give the City enough to meet budget ( a total of about $868,000 generated in taxes) and those items like insurance increases, and if ( property ) values drop (even further) it will cushion us enough to meet obligations," a city report stated.
The city is also considering raising the base water rate for residents and businesses, the latter of which already pay higher rates. And it's unclear as of yet if a proposed deal to sell water to the Town of Otter Creek will be affected by the decision. Staff is expected to present more information on raising rates Monday night.