City holds first of two public hearings on budget

Tallahassee City Hall, Photo courtesy of Florida Memory

The Tallahassee City Commission labored through a lengthy agenda Wednesday that included recognition of local youth baseball teams and the Jake Gaither Golf Course being added to the national register of historic places.

However, the main topic of the meeting was a discussion of what the city will do with $826.5million in its fiscal year 2023 budget.

Wednesday’s session was the first of two public hearings to discuss the budget plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Tallahassee Mayor John Daley and the city commissioners gathered to hear out various bodies and organizations that are to be granted a portion of $1.8 million set aside for their funding.

The hearing ran relatively smoothly with many of the proposals receiving a unanimous 5-0 vote.

The first real rebuttal did not occur until representatives from the COCA, the Council on Culture & Arts, came to speak. Representatives of COCA argued that they needed more funding because the arts give many citizens of Tallahassee jobs as well as keep the youth on a good path. Representatives of COCA argued that many children in Tallahassee need the arts to keep them from resorting to the dangers of drug and alcohol use. They specifically requested $300,000 in funding.

Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox went back and forth with the COCA representatives. Williams-Cox, recently re-elected to a second term, said she was in support of the arts but she said that $300,000 was a lot.

A middle ground was met when both sides got on the same page. Williams-Cox questioned how their fundraising efforts were going.

“The city not awarding $300,000 doesn’t prevent COCA from receiving funding,”  she said.

This point was raised to question COCA’s fundraising efforts. COCA representatives responded by saying that they needed more direct funding because many outlets of culture and art don’t technically qualify for city funding.

Williams-Cox eventually came to an agreement and called for COCA to do its part by reporting their allocation of received funding.

Safety and gun control in the city were a major point of interest. Tallahassee’s real-time crime center is going to be receiving funding. New policies were also put in place to ensure the ethical and appropriate use of the camera database.

The meeting ended with a few closing remarks from Mayor Daley along with a rough draft of the budget adoption.