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A group of men sitting at a table.Bonifay City Councilmembers set the tentative millage and budget on September 7. From left: Mayor Larry Cook, Clerk Rickey Callahan, Councilman James Sellers, Councilwoman Shelley Carroll, and Councilman Rick Crews. [DIANE M. MOORE | THE NEWS AND ADVERTISER]

Bonifay City Council met in special session Sep. 7, to set the tentative millage and budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

 

For the first time in more than five decades, Bonifay City Council set a millage rate to collect Ad Valorem taxes. The tentative millage rate was set at 3 mils which will bring in $354,575 in revenues. The funds are earmarked for the city to enter the Florida State Retirement system (FRS). In order to enter FRS, funds that long- term employees have paid in through the previous retirement system will need to be paid into FRS to give those employees the time credit they have currently earned above eight years of service.

 

The tentative budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year has been set at $5,888,531.81 which the city will operate on. Of that, $802,587.82, has been set for the Bonifay Police Department. The new BPD budget is $167,272/33 higher than the original proposed budget of $635,315.49. During the August 28 meeting, after deciding to keep the police department open, Councilman James Sellers requested to have an increased budget somewhere between the proposed amount and the $1.1 million dollar budget originally proposed by Former Chief Jimmy Macon. Council approved the newly proposed budget item, tentatively.

 

As public discussion ensued concerning the budget, emotions ran high among the crowd. Bonifay resident Richard Willsey addressed the council on the budget and why the council was adding a millage rate this year. ‘We have a Busy Bee coming that will bring the city so much more in revenues,’ said Willsey. ‘Why don’t we wait for that instead of adding mils? Now is not the time to enter FRS when we are in such a budget crunch.’

 

Prior to the meeting beginning, Mayor Cook advised the public that one bang of the gavel would be a warning to come to order, on the second bang, the speaker would be removed. 

 

Willsey attempted to address the council for a second time and was told it was not allowed.

‘It is good enough for our congressmen and our national government to yield their time to another member for speaking, I think it is good enough for us,’ said Willsey.

‘You’re out of order,’ exclaimed Cook.

‘You’re out of order,’ replied Willsey.

 

Cook then had Willsey removed from council chambers.

 

In the end, several residents were removed from the meeting for disruption amid displeasure from most in attendance.

 

Bonifay City Council will meet again in regular session at 6 p.m. on September 11.

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