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County passes final budget

Although the budget was approved, commissioners will be going back to the drawing board in October to find areas to cut.

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  • | 3:33 p.m. September 27, 2017
  • Sarasota
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The Sarasota County Commission voted Tuesday to approve the budget for fiscal year 2018, beginning Oct. 1, with the provision that it will revisit the budget several times to find areas to cut.

After debating since June, commissioners decided not to raise property tax rates or impose a new tax on public utilities, meaning no new revenue streams will be coming in during fiscal year 2018. The approximately $1 billion budget is currently balanced with more than $5 million from the economic uncertainty fund.

Although they both voted to approve the budget as is, commissioners Charles Hines and Nancy Detert both mentioned concerns about the impending budget shortfalls.

“Without [raising taxes], we’re really running this county very, very thin,” Hines said. “As we go forward through October, this is going to be very, very difficult.”

Detert agreed with Hines, and mentioned that property taxes haven’t been raised in Sarasota County for 17 years.

“We voted against an increase in revenue,” she said. “We have to start looking at what we can’t do this year.”

While Hines and Detert are unhappy the commission didn’t raise property taxes or add a tax on public utilities earlier in the budget process, Commissioner Mike Moran believes more cuts should have been made to help balance the budget.

Moran was the only one who voted against the budget, emphasizing that he is “troubled that we continue to live beyond our means.”

The commission will meet Oct. 10 to begin finding areas to cut — a process County Administrator Tom Harmer warned would take some time.