County to review its 2017 budget plan

A proposed overall budget of $456.9 million for Monroe County government’s operations and projects should not raise the property tax rate for fiscal year 2017, budget planners forecast.

County commissioners will convene at 10 a.m. Monday at the Harvey Government Center on Truman Avenue in Key West for an update on the budget process. A second budget workshop tentatively is Tuesday in Key West but the second day could be canceled, County Administrator Roman Gastesi said.

“Things could go pretty quickly” on Monday, Gastesi said. “Last year we basically did a two-year budget and this is a continuation of that.”

“We’ll recommend that we come in under roll-back and everything looks good,” he said. “It’s a happy budget.”

The rollback rate is the property tax rate needed to raise the same money as generated in the current fiscal year.

As outlined for 2017, property tax assessments will bring in $81.1 million — up 1 percent — but the millage should decline because of new construction and changes to the tax roll. Increases in sales taxes and other revenue help balance the budget.

Issues expected to be discussed Monday include bringing 93 county employees who make less than $15 an hour to that level and consideration of a fund for merit-pay increases. The merit pay would be capped at 3.3 percent for top-ranked worker, and not all staff will be rated that highly, Gastesi said.

Monroe County’s employee health-care plan also will be reviewed. The county is self-insured for the most part. “That’s always one of our biggest issues,” Gastesi said.