The Fiscal Year 2022 Budget, of which preparation began as early as December 2020 with public participation meetings, focuses on retaining and recruiting employees that provide direct services to our community including Police Officers, Firefighters, Utilities and Public Works employees. Staffing challenges have plagued businesses and governments across the nation, and the City of Cocoa is no different. We have a number of positions currently unfilled and must find innovative ways to retain our current employees. By offering competitive wages and a robust benefits package, we hope to overcome our staffing challenges this upcoming fiscal year.
Another challenge faced while preparing for the upcoming budget year included worn-out, aging and failing equipment. There was an emphasis on replacing outdated equipment such as Police and Fire radio communication equipment, Police vehicles, street and Public Works maintenance equipment, and more to continue to improve our City.
Budget priority planning began with public Council briefing sessions back in December 2020 with over 10 different meetings being held to balance the budget and discuss upcoming challenges and budget priorities. All of these meetings were advertised and open to the public for participation.
At the public budget meeting on September 14, 2021, a majority of Council approved on first reading the increase of the millage rate from 5.979 to 6.4532 to face these challenges and address budget priorities. The average increase for a majority of homes in the Cocoa community will be about $23 annually. This proposed millage rate is also below the average millage rate county-wide. The final budget hearing is set for September 28, 2021 to finalize and approve the proposed balanced budget per statutory requirement.
A good visual on your average tax dollar is below which shows the portion of your tax dollar which actually comes to the City of Cocoa to pay for the basic everyday services such as Police and Fire.