Lake County could run out of money by 2015



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Lake County is just two years away from running out of money.

County leaders are prepared to make cut deep budget cuts, impose layoffs and even raise taxes.

The county has been cutting spending for years in hopes of avoiding such a situation.

For five years running, the Lake County commission has made deep cuts to the county's budget, but it still hasn't been enough.

"You don't have a structurally balanced budget. We're robbing from Peter to pay Paul," said County Manager David Heath.

Heath said the spending plan is $11 million short for the coming fiscal year and the county will have to pull money from the bank to break even.

By 2015 there could be not a dime left.

"We're at the point now that we've never been. We don't have the money in reserves to balance the budget. We just don't," said Lake County Commissioner Jimmy Conner.

The current plan calls for six percent cuts across the board, and another handful of employees will have to go.

The county staff numbered 370 a few years back but has now been whittled down to 214.

Heath said morale is suffering. No raises for six straight years has led some employees to jump ship.

Now, to avoid more drastic cuts such as no longer properly maintaining county parks, some are suggesting that it's time to raise property taxes.

"This is it. Our choice is either we cut that, so nobody is having any fun anymore, or we at least raise the millage rate," Vance Jochim with Lake County Fiscal Rangers said.