Monroe County budget talks will begin in July and the current economy will be a big topic

We’ve all felt the monetary crunch recently, especially with the inflationary economy. Gas prices, grocery prices, it feels like the cost of everything is going up.

That’s going to play a pretty big role when looking at next year’s budget for Monroe County.

The first budget meeting will be in July where the commissioners discuss what they’d like to see.

Kristen Livengood, Public Information Officer for Monroe County, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9,102.5FM recently to discuss the budget and other issues facing the county.

One topic that came up at the last meeting was solid waste.

Livengood said, “They’re seeing major increases in what they are having to spend for housing, for gas. Marathon Garbage Service, their director, he said that everything they do follows oil prices. So they’re looking at extraordinary circumstances at this point and that’s going to reflect on the cost of getting our trash picked up for next year for the next budget. It’s definitely being seen across the board some of the issues that are coming up with this inflation.”

Even the toll prices for Card Sound Road have gone up.

Livengood said, “We’re looking at an 8% increase across the board for a lot of our contracts and things like that as well.”

One big question is will the tax rate be affected?

Livengood said, “Our budget director does a very good job at trying to keep our tax increase at the same level that it is. They have done it I believe 10 out of the 12 years.”

Predictions are that the July 4 holiday won’t be affected by gas prices and tourism is expected to be as heavy as it has been.

Livengood noted, “The nice part about that too is that we have that sales tax that’s paid for by, mostly, 65% of our tourism pays for that infrastructure sales tax that we have, so it’s nice when the tourists that come to visit us are able to foot a little bit of that bill.”

A number of county officials are currently in Washington, DC, discussing flood insurance protection and marine debris cleanup after hurricanes.

Livengood said, “Obviously after Hurricane Irma there was that huge situation where we were luckily able to find $49 million from the federal government to help clean out all of the marine debris that Irma had deposited.”

The group in DC is working on setting aside funds and have it written into law that it can be used for marine debris cleanup.

Livengood added, “It’s a good reminder for your listeners if they don’t have their residential reentry stickers for their vehicles to head down to the tax collector’s office with proof of vehicle registration and proof of owning a property down here and they can get their residential reentry sticker. Just in case there’s an evacuation, it’s easier for them to get back in.”