During the recent meeting of Leon County’s Children’s Services Council (CSC) on June 16, many citizens raised concerns about next year’s millage rate. Due to recent increases in inflation, citizens suggested keeping or even lowering the current Millage rate.
“You have to think about what is going on in the lives of the people who have to pay this tax. If you’ve been to the gas station or the grocery store recently, you know that inflation is really eating away at everyone’s income,” said Emily Fritz, who opposed the tax when it came up for a vote in 2020.
Last year, the council approved a property tax rate of 0.375%, meaning Leon County residents paid $37.50 per $100,000 of taxable property value. The tax raised approximately $7 million in revenue for the CSC.
The maximum tax that the CSC is allowed to collect is 0.5.
Treasurer Paul Mitchell recommended that the council lower the millage rate to reflect rising property values. If the council approved Mitchell’s proposal, the millage rate would drop from 0.375 to 0.343.
However, not all members agreed with the treasurer. Liza McFadden and Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna had the same idea of keeping the millage rate the same. McFadden said she wanted to be consistent with taxpayers. At the same time, Hanna pleaded for retention and against an increase.
The Millage rate will be formally set at a future meeting.
At its last meeting, the CSC allocated funds for summer programs to priority groups. However, some in the community criticized the council, which noted that the first cycle of funding from the CSC was not looking good.
Cecka Green, executive director of the council, said the funding was approved to fill summer gaps and expand existing programs. She also said the allocations are expected to affect 13,000 youth and families.
TR has requested the expected number of children each organization will directly impact, story will be updated as information becomes available.
CSC’s first cycle of funding provided approximately $1.6 million for more than 50 summer programs.
The top five allocations are listed below with the organization’s stated goals.
The Young Engineers Tallahassee received $180,038. Their stated mission is to bring STEM resources to communities without access and to those with learning disabilities — specifically, grades K-8 in ZIP Codes: 32301, 32303, 32304, 32305, and 32310.
The Mount Olive Affordable Housing and Community Development received $150,000. Its mission is to improve the health, economic, educational and social standards of the community’s residents who are essentially unemployed or whose income falls below federal poverty guidelines.
The collaborative learning of Leon County Schools in the 21st Century
received $139,004. The free programs sponsored by this organization provide opportunities for academic enrichment during the afternoon and summer hours, including the provision of tutoring services, particularly to students attending underperforming schools.
The Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Inc. raised $122,709. Second Harvest’s immediate overall goal is to increase targeted food distribution and grocery cost savings for people with food insecurity in North Florida. The Summer 2022 Child Nutrition Program will provide interactive educational sheets for different age groups and “Mommy and Me” recipe cards to encourage nutrition-based activities.
The Divine Healthcare Consulting, LLC was awarded $101,737 to reduce the negative stigma associated with mental illness through empowerment, education and delivery of mental health wellness. The group will provide quality, affordable mental health counseling to underserved Black and Indigenous communities and people of color.