Save the Copter

If the first few speakers at tonight’s City Budget Workshop are any indication, Lakeland residents want the Lakeland Police Department helicopter safe from budget cuts.

The city is looking to save $300,000 by grounding the copter. That includes approximately $70,000 for salaries, and $100,000 for future copter replacement. All the Lakeland residents who spoke for keeping the copter cited safety as their primary concern.

The workshop started at 7pm, and city official spoke for about 45 minutes explaining the reasoning behind the proposed millage of 3.5450. They again offered other options, though the program wasn’t as detailed as last time.

The city suggested three possible millage scenarios:

(proposed) 3.5450 which would give the city $18,109,846

(rolled back) 3.2942 which would net $16,828,619 and

(statutory) 2.9977 which brings in $15,313,931

By 8:10 pm many of the crowd of 50-plus had spoken. As with the last budget workshop, no resident spoke out against the city’s proposal to keep the millage at 3.5450.

I find it unusual no one is coming to these workshops to complain about the millage proposal. The Ledger forums and letters to the editor seem to support cutting the millage, but those residents haven’t attended the two budget workshops I have witnessed.

They have little time to voice their concerns as the city will adopt a budget by September 17th. At that hearing, five commissioner votes are needed for the 2.9977 millage, but all seven commissioners must approve a 3.2942 or 3.5450 millage.

I’d suggest checking out Lakeland Swanshots and tomorrow’s Ledger for Diane Lacey Allen‘s report on the workshop.