Year in Review: Costs of doing business

Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 09:50 AM.

As local governments wrestled with ever-shrinking revenues and increases in costs, taxpayers were realizing a decrease to the size of their wallets.

The Board of County Commissioners considered a host of alternative sources of revenue only to finally pass along a $1 million tax increase to property owners.

Some of the alternatives considered lacked traction in the public – particularly a proposed increase to gas taxes – but addressing nagging issues such as the landfill and mandatory garbage pickup – to be put before voters in referendum in November – seemed inevitable to come from some alternative source of revenue.

A proposal to raise bed taxes to help the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office budget was a non-starter.

The Gulf County School District, meanwhile, put to voters another four years of an additional one penny in operating expenses as the district, facing a budget shortfall of nearly $2 million if the levy was defeated, sought dollars to offset potential job losses and maintain basic operations.

The levy passed with 54 percent of the vote on a day when only one in five voters cast a ballot.

Some school losses still occurred – instead of an estimated 50 the number was reduced to roughly a dozen – though it still spurred a complaint from the union representing employees over the method of cutting jobs, but declining enrollment continues to erode the bottom line for public schools.

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