The reductions included an additional cut of 4 percent from the Broward County Commission's budget, bringing the total cuts in the Commission budget to 9.5 percent. Reductions were also made in funding for hospital district primary health contracts and health department contracts. Children's services for mental health care contracts were reduced. The additional cuts will also slow work to synchronize traffic signals and to install mast arms to harden traffic lights in the event of adverse weather, such as a hurricane. The Broward County Historical Commission will be reorganized for additional savings. Altogether, Commissioners cut more than $85-million dollars from the property tax supported general fund budget.
"The responsible thing to do is to set a millage rate tonight and finalize a budget and that is what we did," said Commissioner Wexler. "I proposed additional budget cuts that I thought would further reduce the millage rate, but not deeply harm all County agencies and services. We all have to share the pain."
"It took compromise in order for the majority of Commissioners to reach an agreement as to how far we were willing to cut Broward County services and jobs. We have to realize that there are quality of life issues here," said Commissioner Kristin Jacobs. "These cuts minimize the overall adverse impact on taxpayers and County services. The vast majority of homeowners will see a decrease in their County property taxes. Next year we know we face even more economic challenges."
Commissioners Lois Wexler, Kristin Jacobs, Ilene Lieberman, Albert C. Jones and Vice Mayor Sue Gunzburger voted in favor of the finalized budget, which increased the property millage rate by approximately 3 percent from the year before. Mayor Ken Keechl voted against an increase in property taxes along with Commissioner John Rodstrom. Commissioner Stacy Ritter was not present, but had consistently voted against a millage rate increase throughout the budget process. The Broward County Charter mandates that at least five Commissioners must agree on a finalized budget.
One outstanding issue that remains is an additional $3.5 million dollars to finance salary increases for some Broward County Sheriff's deputies that a majority of Commissioners previously approved. (Mayor Ken Keechl and Commissioner John Rodstrom voted against those increases.) Broward County Administrator Bertha Henry agreed to work out those outstanding budget issues with the Broward Sheriff's Department.