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day" funds to cover operating costs. "We still have to take money from reserves," Patterson told The Sarasota News Leader, "albeit a lot less now." Patterson said the County Commission has kept the millage rate stable — even in the bleakest years of the recent recession — and she wants it to stay the same during the upcoming fiscal year. "Rolling back the rate would mean a reduc- tion in services," Patterson pointed out. The county still needs to catch up on road repaving and reinstating services it cut during the recession, such as days of operation at the libraries, she noted. Such changes should happen before the county's millage rate is reduced, Patterson said. However, she is opti- mistic about what she calls a "soft landing" in the near future, when the county's growing expenses will match up with total revenue. Commissioner Joe Barbetta said that although he is not sure how the upcoming budget pre- sentations and discussions will go, he, too, believes holding steady on the millage rate is the best course. "I wouldn't support any millage increase," Barbetta added. The $6.9 million in additional revenue would help the county with future fiscal planning, he added. A big objective for B a r b e t t a h a s b e e n continued funding of initiatives that will lead to more economic development, including projects designed to spur sports tourism. Future board action along those lines could include constructing facilities such as a conference center. "That brings more tourism and jobs and more peo- ple relocating here," Barbetta said. "I think we are in good financial shape," Barbetta added. "We [have] the lowest mill- age rate in the state, out of 67 counties. That is pretty incredible when you consider the services here." UPCOMING WORKSHOPS The County Commission began its budget workshops in February, an atypically early start as the commissioners and county staff focused on addressing a projected shortfall in 2016. That deficit has been shrinking, though, Vice Chairwoman Christine Robinson pointed out in an interview last week with the News Leader, as county staff has cut spending and shifted excess revenues. The anticipated $6.9 million in general fund money could be used to plug up more of that hole. The board has upcoming workshops on June 17, June 25, June 27, June 30, July 1 and Aug. 20. Although the tentative property tax rate will be set in July, the final millage rate will not be set until after pub- lic hearings in North a n d S o u t h C o u n t y in September, said county spokesman Curt Preisser. I don't think it's a secret that our market bottomed around 2010. Catherine Seress Realtor Coldwell Banker Sarasota News Leader June 6, 2014 Page 37

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