Gainesville’s charter officers presented budget proposals to the City Commission on Wednesday, showing a proposed increase of $10.6 million.
Almost all of the increase came from the Gainesville Police Department and Gainesville Fire Rescue budgets, which showed a $5.4 million and a $5.6 million jump, respectively.
Steve Varvel, acting director of the office of management and budget, said contractual wage agreements drove the majority of those increases. The city enters agreements with the police and fire unions that prescribe wage increases for each year.
"Every one of these charter officer budgets are 90% individuals,” Varvel said. “This is a service organization, and services are provided largely by people.”
With legislative pressure to reduce debt, the city dropped its general services contribution from the utility by $16 million, leaving a significant hole in the budget. The city will need to find cuts or increase other revenues to make up the shortfall.
GRU provided the city with its second largest revenue stream at $33.5 million in the last adopted budget—behind only property taxes with $47.5 million. Those two income streams provided just over 50% in the city’s $154.9 million budget for fiscal year 2023.
At Wednesday’s workshop, the commission received updates on the charter office budgets, along with the police and fire departments. The 2023 adopted budget for these sections totaled $65.9 million, and next year’s budget proposals asked for the $10.6 million increase.
City Manager Cynthia Curry said none of the numbers are final. The workshop only updates the commission on where staff is in the budget process. The budget will be finalized on Sept. 21.
Other departments—Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Public Works; Housing and Community Development; Transportation; Sustainable Development; Administrative and Support Services—will present budgets on May 25 and June 14.
Varvel said 90% of all the charter office budgets consist of people costs—salaries and benefits. Of the budgets presented, only the Office of the City Manager and the Office of Equity and Inclusion presented reductions —$423,700 and $32,600 respectively.
While all offices cut expenses in sections, increases in those people costs pushed overall budgets above the previous year.
Within the city auditor office, for example, salaries and benefits increased $15,651, eliminating $12,216 worth of cuts to operations and management, along with administrative and general costs.
"There is going to have to be a percentage decrease at the senior management level,” Commissioner Ed Book said at the meeting.
He said the city can’t afford to pay upper management the full amount and cut lower workers who actually do the work.
Curry eliminated five vacant positions in her office and moved one to sustainable development, accounting for the majority of her reductions. The offices of the city attorney and equity and inclusion also each dropped one full-time equivalent position.
The Gainesville Police Department, also under Curry, eliminated $2.4 million from the department’s Juvenile Justice and Community Support Programs. The cuts ended programs like the Reichert House Youth Academy, High Risk Intervention Unit, and administration associated with them.
Stopping those programs resulted in the loss of around 20 full-time equivalent positions. Curry said the city is working to relocate those persons internally, if possible.
On Monday, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) presented its plan for the next year, showing a proposed $3.4 million reduction in expenses.
Preliminary budgets for charter offices:
- Proposed budget: $1,633,410
- Increase of $35,091
- Proposed budget: $1,539,912
- Increase of $26,062
- Proposed budget: $993,045
- Increase of $3,435
- Proposed budget: $1,664,859
- Decrease of $423,710
Office of Equity and Inclusion
- Proposed budget: $1,598,945
- Decrease of $32,677
- Proposed budget: $556,927
- Increase of $66,345
- Proposed budget: $41,047,751
- Increase of $5,442,378
- Proposed budget: $27,722,134
- Increase of $5,598,388
Uh, Commissioner's If you can't figure out the budget issues, you need to repeat the 5th Grade. I would recommend doing that in another County,
Oh boy what a farce! All the talk and need for cuts and half the departments can’t do without increases! Even those that are part of collective bargaining can simply cut positions. Fire and police have had time to hob knob and mess around for years. Take a 10% personnel cut, GPD too. And those city hall charters could cut 15% of their staff or just cut salaries. I knew it! We all did! They are P’d the GRU bill past and this is retaliation! Start cutting now!
It's called a Reduction in Force!
Services related to public safety have priority.
Get rid of the DEI and reinstate the EEO to insure everybody gets equal treatment. We already have laws protecting people from prejudice, discrimination, and the other forms of mistreating people!
Get rid of the two "At Large" CC, they add nothing to the actual governance of the city, just another paycheck!
GNV must make major cuts to their spending over and above public safety and support.
Holy crap! $1,600,000 for the office of Equity and Inclusion? That idiotic office was only created a few years ago. They hired 2 FTE’s and funded the office at $600k for 3 years I believe and now the annual budget is $1.6 million?