Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County Commission News

County Commission gives the order to roll back workers salaries (budget workshop no. 1)

Columbia County Manager, Dale Williams, played to an empty house during the first budget meeting of this year, as not one member from the public came to observe the workshop. CM Williams refused to make the material available on the county web site before the meeting and Assistant CM Lisa Roberts printed no extra copies for the public.

The July 22nd budget work shop began with County Manager Dale Williams explaining that there is typically only one budget workshop in Columbia County. This year he thought there might be as many as three workshops.

The County Manager claimed that if this meeting was not held he was prepared to present a balanced floor budget at the July 30th workshop. He said he didn’t want the board to be shocked and surprised, which is one of the reasons he held this workshop.

CM Williams told the board, “The simple truth is that the value of the tax role has gone down and therefore the amount of ad valorem taxes that we will collect has gone down.”

He pointed out that the revenue from the half cent sales tax is down a half a million dollars.

CM Williams also pointed out that the voted gas tax revenue is flat even though the population has increased.

CM Williams is projecting about a four and a half million dollar revenue reduction over the next two years, with the  first two and a quarter million dollar reduction coming this year.

The CM called the revenue reduction a deficit.

CM Williams told the Board, “Every year we go through the operating line items of every budget, every fund in the county and through that process we were able to reduce operating expenses $223,501.” There was no material showing how he did this.

The CM said that he reduced funding to outside third party agencies by $77,600. There was not list showing how much the county funds to outside agencies and who they are.

County Manager Williams told the Board, “Based on average salaries and benefits we would have to reduce the number of employees [by] thirty two. Of those thirty two positions nine are budgeted but not filled. The other positions actually have a warm body sitting in them, so that becomes a pretty significant action.”

The CM is also suggesting rolling back the cost of living adjustment given to the county employees last year. This proposal was given the thumbs up by the County Commission, while at the same time the commissioners did not offer to give back any of their salary which is eight hundred dollars a week plus benefits.

In order to raise revenue in the building department Columbia County’s working families are about to take it on the chin again, as the County Manager is suggesting another round of building department fee increases.

There was also a discussion about court fees – going up; The Tourist Development Tax – going up; the roll back rate – going up and reducing the Constitutional Officers’ budgets by one percent.

CM Williams had no documentation explaining how he came up with the one percent and where the proposed cut in the Sheriff’s Department, $122,000, would come from.

The CM also mentioned that the Tallahassee law firm, NGN, had come up with seven fire rate scenarios. The firm was contracted to do this in order to come up with a plan to end the unfair subsidy of some land owners who have 160 acres attached to a 5 acre homestead and are paying the same fire rate as someone with a five acre homestead and one additional acre.

The CM said that the rates would go up for other classes if a new rate was approved.

The meeting ended with County Manager Williams telling the Board that they have supplied him with enough material to prepare the budget.


County Manager Dale Williams refused to make the meeting material available on county website even though it was completed the day before the meeting.

The CM's continual violations of the county charter are unabated and supported by the commissioners.

The material, which was finallypdf available here posted two days after the meeting, is available here.  

The county refuses to reveal who prepared the spreadsheet on page two.

This file has been reduced in size from 618k to 32k for dialup download as a service to Observer dial up readers. Columbia County is in the stone age of internet access.