Lake Co. leaders consider steep budget cuts

Updated:

Loading
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

Low property values have Lake County leaders considering another round of budget cuts.

The latest round of cuts would be the highest percentage of cuts since the start of the recession in 2008.

Times have been tough for Lake County government for five straight years and things are shaping up to make it six.

Local business owner Ralph Smith watched it happen and he said it's time for everyone to step up.

"I'm a vendor of Lake County. I sell them tires. Ask every vendor you have to give you a 1 percent cut on state bid price. One percent. What would that do?" Smith asked.

Since 2008, lake county government has cut 145 positions and $54 million out of its budget, but this year might feature the steepest cuts yet.

"We know that our cuts will need to be somewhere between 5 and 10 percent. At this point it's looking like 6 percent, and that's based on certain assumptions about the tax roll," said Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione.

The No. 1 assumption is that property tax collections will continue to slump, because local home values still aren't coming back. It's a very different story for some of Lake County's neighbors.

"Orange County has already flushed this out. They're back into a recovery mode. Their values are increasing every year. So hopefully, Lake County is going to be there," said Campione.

Ralph Smith hopes so too, but he says officials might have consider an unpopular option.

"They do have some daunting needs. The question is -- are those really needs people will be willing to pay more for taxes when their services are cut?" asked Smith.

So far, the commission has avoided any tax hikes.

County leaders will discuss possible cuts at a budget meeting scheduled for Friday, February 22nd at 9 a.m. at the Lake County Administration Building on Main Street in Tavares.

Residents are welcome to attend.