• Lake Co. budget set to take another $6M hit


    LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - The Lake County government's budget is set to take another $6 million hit, and steep cuts may be on the way for the sixth straight year.

    The severity of the cuts may be out of the County Commission's control and in the hands of the county's elected constitutional officers: the tax collector, property appraiser and the sheriff.

    If they don't cut their budgets, officials warn some county services may have to be shut down.

    Experts said home values still haven't hit bottom across Lake County. Property tax revenue is down percent this year, and it could fall another 3 percent next year, officials said.

    "You know, it could be worse. It certainly could be worse, said Lake County Commissioner Leslie Campione.

    The County Commission learned budgets will have to be cut by 6 percent, and that's looking on the bright side.

    "Without crying wolf, commissioners, all those cuts we've talked about are not going to be enough if we get into one of these scenarios," said County Manager David Heath.

    "If we don't get 6 percent from the constitutional officers, we may have no alternative than to go the revenue side," said Jimmy Conner of the Lake County Commission.

    Officials don't want to raise taxes but some said if county services suffer, attracting new businesses to Lake may be out of the question.

    "That ain't going to happen if we neglect our governmental infrastructure," said Welton Cadwell of the commission. "Nobody is going to want to move here if were not providing basic services. Just keep that in the back of your mind."

    Officials have already cut more than 150 county jobs and $50 million since 2008.

    "I think there isn't a whole lot of money left on the table for them without really chopping out bus service entirely or chop out entire libraries," said Vanc Jochim of the Lake County Fiscal Rangers. "That's just about the point where they're getting."

    The sheriff and other elected officers have until June first to present their budgets.

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    Lake Co. budget set to take another $6M hit