DADE CITY — Commissioner Camille Hernandez created a stir at the budget hearing Monday night by suggesting the city revisit some of its key expenses.
Hernandez proposed the city do some comparison shopping for contract services, including city attorney, engineer and auditors. The process could produce some savings, she said.
"It's okay to tentatively agree on items," Hernandez said as the commission moved forward with the proposed budget, set to go into effect Oct. 1. "I just want to maintain flexibility."
Hernandez also requested a specific accounting of city reserves. Other commissioners questioned whether this was their role.
"A fundamental approach, designed in our charter, is to create a policy setting," Commissioner Curtis Beebe said. "We do not manage city departments.
"Rather than calling for any changes or hiring assistants, our role is to establish goals," he added. "With responsibilities clearly defined, the city clerk, attorney and manager can determine and decide how to meet those criteria."
City officials are coming down to the wire in this budget cycle. A final vote is slated for Sept. 27.
City Attorney Karla Owens is busy drafting a new ordinance for commissioners' payroll considerations, while City Manager Billy Poe is preparing more details about the potential use of city reserves. Both will come up for discussion Sept. 27.
"Traditionally the reserves are a contingency government fund set aside for unforeseen expenses," Owens said.
The proposed budget is built on a property tax rate of 7.1 mills, or $7.10 for every $1,000 of taxable property. A $10 million boost in the city's tax base allowed the city to keep the tax rate flat and still raise an additional $71,000 in revenue.