The Monroe County Commission was not expected to raise taxes this year to balance its budget, but officials may have to slightly increase them to cover the cost of a new health department immunization program.
The County Commission held its first of two budget hearings Monday, and local health department Executive Director Bob Eadie proposed two community health plans that would add a combined $326,000 to the county's operating budget.
Eadie proposed a $100,000 "Healthy Homes Initiative" and a $226,640 "Adult Immunization Program" that would inoculate people against the human papilloma virus -- which can cause cervical cancer in women, Eadie said. The department would also offer immunizations against seasonal flu, tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis, Eadie said.
The commission seemed to support the immunization program, but not the Healthy Homes Initiative. The county is already giving the health department, which falls under the auspices of state government, $939,000, records show.
The immunization program would increase the county tax rate by about .31 percent over what is known as rollback -- the rate that would generate the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year, county Budget Director Tina Boan said.
The commission will vote today on a roughly $284 million annual operating budget and set a tentative property tax rate that will cost property owners in unincorporated Monroe County roughly $320 per $100,000 of property value, records show.
The county is also pulling $4.9 million out of reserves to cover the cost of operating expenses, County Administrator Roman Gastesi said.
Commissioners will also vote today on funding a $130 million capital budget that includes the purchase of Rowell's Marina in Key Largo and taking over the Old Seven Mile Bridge from the state.
If approved, the projects will be funded through one-cent sales tax infrastructure funds and county-bonded money.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has tentatively agreed to pay half of the $18 million to retrofit the Old Seven Mile Bridge if the county takes ownership of the bridge and maintains it. However, there are structural issues with the bridge.
Last week, the county received two appraisals for Rowell's Marina, which put the purchase price between $4.5 million and $5 million.
The commission will meet at 10 a.m. today at the Harvey Government Center, 1200 Truman Ave., Key West.