Volusia County is facing a $2 million deficit at its fire department but is refusing to raise taxes to make up the difference. County Manager Jim Dinneen broke the bad news to his Council on Thursday, they are short money again this year, and quickly draining reserves.
"Revenues have not kept up with cost of providing the service. You know values fell, the tax rate went down. So now you have a department that at this stage costs about $21 million to run, and we only bring in about $19 million worth of revenue."
Volusia County charges a specific millage for fire services to residents that do not live within any city limits. This prevents residents of cities from being charged twice for fire service, once through their property taxes that go to Volusia's General Revenue Fund, and once through taxes they pay to the city. It creates one major problem for Volusia. When they run low on fire taxes, they can't just make it up with General Revenue funding, because that's prohibited by law. Dinneen tells FOX 35, they basically have 3 choices, and raising taxes will not be one of them.
"No, that's really the choice of the Council."
Another option would be to cut firefighters. Fourteen and possibly more would be laid off in order to make up the deficit, something neither Dinneen nor the Council was interested in.
"No because there is a certain amount of work that we have to get done and we want to do it in an efficient manner.... What the Council suggested, what they agreed with me today was to say lets try to run it within the 19 million by trying to eliminate other inefficiencies, trying to reduce overtime."
Volusia says they will find a way to cut 2 million dollars from the fire budget by adjusting which stations are staffed at peak levels and when, plus reducing overtime.