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Florence Weighing July 4 Options; Braces for Financial Challenges

The Florence Government Center is set to reopen to the public again on June 1, though people will be required to wear masks. City leaders still want residents to conduct as much business as possible digitally.

This year's Independence Day celebrations, which typically take place on July 3 as part of a partnership with the Florence baseball team, now known as the Y'alls, are up in the air at the moment.

Mayor Diane Whalen said that the city wants to celebrate Independence Day, but any program would likely be scaled back, or canceled.

At last week's city council meeting, Finance Director Linda Chapman presented the proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget.

The city's budget is $44.2 million and that includes operating expenses, capital expenses, and transfers. The budget for the new fiscal year was created partially by decreasing the amount for incoming  property taxes, since Chapman said that she expects more delinquencies.

She also decreased numbers because of predicted decreases in payroll taxes and occupational licenses.

Chapman said that it helped that the state declared an emergency provision that didn't raise the payments to the pension this year.

Chapman said that the contingency that the city has estimated for June 30, 2021 is $57 million. The last recession, which started to be seen in 2007, was dealt with by good planning and cuts in other places, and the city didn't have to dip into reserves, she said. But Mayor Whalen told council members that ultimately they will probably have to pull from the reserves because of the shortfalls from the pandemic. 

The mayor said that she hopes to see federal funds assist the city.

The city will proceed with their regular plan for repair of the streets.  

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has told cities and counties to expect less than they expected, due to less gas tax being collected. Looking at about 16 percent less than the $600,000 the city expected, Chapman estimated the city will have to use about $80,000 out of the reserves. However, she said she would have to have a crystal ball to be able to tell exactly how much they will need, or what will happen.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor