Come budget time, each government agency is called upon to develop a spending plan that's in line with their needs. This year the Bay County Commission is looking to cut $1.6 million due to a decrease in property values.
"Basically that's going to come down to an ad valorum loss of $1.6 million." County Budget Officer Ashley Stukey says.
For elected officials like Sheriff Frank McKeithen, that's bad news. "When you continue to eliminate and continue to eliminate, it affects response time to people that need help, it gets critical." McKeithen says.
The Bay County Sheriff's Office has cut about $2.2 million since 2008, while calls for service have remained over 80,000 a year. This year, he's asking for a $350,000 increase to off-set the rise in insurance. "I can't handle that and it's no different than anyone else who can't handle their insurance increase." McKeithen adds.
During his presentation, commissioners agreed a solution could be reached. "I believe we can do some innovative accounting and probably find that small amount that he needs to keep going. He really has done a great job." Commissioner George Gainer says.
While other constitutional officers face different challenges, all have felt the impacts of an economic downturn. "Everybody that came in here today understands that we can't raise ad valorum taxes in Bay County and they work really hard to try to make their budgets work in their offices." Gainer says.
Before the budget is finalized in September, commissioners will meet with other government agencies and hold public hearings.