Tallahassee has set aside $750,000 for the Big Bend Homeless Coalition in its proposed budget, money the agency is grateful for, but if it's going to continue the same level of services with its HOPE Community, the coalition says it needs an additional $134,000. Without it, staff cuts could be necessary.
Kay Freeman of the Big Bend Homeless Coalition said, "If we have to decrease our staff, which is our last desperate, is what we would end up doing, that would mean fewer people would be able to be housed at HOPE Community, fewer people being housed, fewer people turned into taxpayers rather than tax consumers."
In its first year the HOPE Community had a 68 percent success rate, higher than the national average. It’s proof, the coalition says, that the money would be well spent.
The Jake Gaither community is also urging the commission to take another look at the budget, asking they not be left behind.
Residents say renovations to the Jake Gaither Community Center were supposed to appear on the upcoming budget, but they recently found out the much needed renovations were moved to the 2011 budget.
Nita Davis of the Jake Gaither Community Center said, "I think that is unfair, that's five years and nobody has sat down at the table with us to discuss it."
The city explained the Gaither Community Center renovations were moved after money ran out due to unexpected repairs to the Fourth Avenue Community Center.
Commissioners told the crowd that they will consider all the budget concerns and requests as they prepare for next week's budget workshop. That is when commissioners will work to finalize the proposed budget. The budget will then have to go before two additional public hearings in September before it is voted on.
There are no tax increases the 06/06 budget; however, there are a few increases in Parks and Recreation, Animal Services and building inspection fees.