KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – City council members passed the city’s budget and millage rate on the first reading Monday night.
The budget is about $5.6 million. The millage rate of 4.2901 mills didn’t change from the last fiscal year. Beyond capital projects and operations expenses, the budget includes $5,000 for the Keystone Heights Senior Center.
The longest discussion Monday pertained to senior center. Challenge Enterprises donated a bus to the center and center representatives asked the city for funds to help fit the bus with a lift.
Council member Tony Brown said he was concerned about the city’s liability. He said the city should add stipulations when appropriating money to organizations and the county should carry some of the responsibility.
“I feel like my job as a councilman here is to represent the taxpayers,” Brown said. “That phrase, ‘What if?’ comes out.”
Council members Stephen Hart and Larry Peoples agreed with Brown to see what the money was for. Hart, Peoples and Mayor Karen Lake said they supported leaving the line item in. City manager Scott Kornegay said money was earmarked in the budget and contingent upon receiving the center’s plans.
Senior center director LaVerne Lanier said the bus was a necessary service to take seniors to the center.
“We’ll give you penny to penny costs,” Lanier said. “We have so many clients that cannot drive.”
The $5,000 line item remained in the budget. The final budget hearing is Sept. 23.
In other business, Kornegay asked council members to consider items to bring before the legislative delegation Oct. 10. Kornegay said State Road 100 improvements and adding water and sewer services to the Keystone Heights Airport were potential asks.
“(State Road) 100 is an evacuation route and there is an appetite with the state Legislature to provide for those hurricane routes,” Kornegay said. “We feel like that’s a good ask that stands a good chance.”
The meeting, 2:30 p.m. at the Clay County Administration building, is open to the public.
Kornegay said Keystone dodged a bullet with Hurricane Dorian, to end the meeting.
“It was forecast to impact at Fort Lauderdale, run up the spine of the state and decimate everything in its path,” Kornegay said. “I can tell you we had done everything we could possibly do to get ready. When that thing turned and stayed offshore, it was just a blessing.”