Building a Better Budget

By Mark Anderson

Budget season is here, and every year, this is an important time for Marion County government.

Though it happens around the same time each year, there is lots of work that goes into managing the county budget and the many branches of government, emergency services and other organizations that need funding throughout the upcoming fiscal year.

In Marion County, the fiscal budget begins October 1, 2022 and lasts until September 30, 2023. Throughout the summer, all Marion County departments individually discuss their budgets and how they plan to spend those dollars. Once those discussions are finished, department directors present their budgets before the board for further discussion and refinement, and to answer any questions the commission may have.

The last budget hearings before the budget is finalized take place later this month at the Marion County Commission Auditorium on September 8 and September 22 at 7 p.m.

What’s In A Budget?
The county budget also determines how property tax dollars are divided throughout the county: the school board, the county general fund, law enforcement MSTU, county fire rescue and EMS MSTU, fine and forfeiture, the water management district, and the health unit trust fund.

The general fund is what funds the many programs and services provided by Marion County departments, such as Animal Services, Public Safety Communications, Parks and Recreation, Veterans Services, and more. The general fund also pays for things such as jail administration and operations, countywide ambulance service and emergency dispatch, reserves for natural disasters and other emergencies, funding for other constitutional offices, court technologies, and partner agencies such as the Heart of Florida Center and others.

At previous budget hearings earlier this year, the commission discussed newly approved positions at county departments, infrastructure improvements and more help for first responders. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods is seeking 100 additional officers over the next five years to address continued growth in the county.

Another consideration discussed during these public hearings is the final millage rate in the county. While the millage rate will continue to be discussed at the September budget hearings, the rate will be no higher than 4.39 mills.

All budget hearings are open to the public, and public comments are welcome.

Ready For The Next Year
Marion County is committed to being fiscally responsible with all of its funds, and budget season is proof of that. With a fully vested budget, Marion County government is ready to tackle the challenges of the upcoming fiscal year. 

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