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With hiring freeze in place, Wakulla County neighbors express concerns, county leaders respond

The initial error resulted in a $2.4 million shortfall in the Wakulla County budget
Posted at 6:21 PM, Oct 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-31 18:29:17-04


As Wakulla County works through a hiring freeze, I'm taking neighbors concerns to county leaders.

"It's very concerning. We're a small county," said Traci Bourgeois.

After a multi-million dollar mistake, I'm working to get answers about how the county is moving forward.

"There are certain things that I hate to see suffer," Bourgeois said. She lives in Wakulla County.

"We do like the smaller atmosphere and smaller everything."

One thing that's not small?

The budget gap created by a tax roll error in the Wakulla County Property Appraiser's Office. We first told you about that error on October 23.

Since then, Wakulla County Commissioners have voted to put a hiring freeze on county job openings. It's a situation that will impact first responder positions in the county.

"Lack of EMS services and hiring freezes," Bourgeois added, "I think is going to be could be detrimental to our community."

Bourgeois' concern to county administrator, David Edwards on Tuesday.

I asked, "what is your strategy for the people that you were going to hire now that you can't fill those positions?"

"We're going to continue to evaluate where we are in the budget process as we move along and we'll do that after the first quarter of this year and once we determine that and how things are going well utilize reserves as needed if at all possible," Edwards said.

Before the tax error, Wakulla County was planning to hire nine new law enforcement and nine fire and EMS employees. Now that plan is on hold.

It's an issue the sheriff brought up during an emergency audit meeting late last week. "If we don't have public safety none of this matters," Wakulla County Sheriff, Jared Miller, said.  

I asked Edwards how Wakulla County will handle emergencies and respond in a timely manner.

"These positions were to help compliment that, but we'll have the same level of service that our citizens enjoy today which is a very high level of service," Edwards concluded.

To prevent future tax mistakes, county leaders also voted for the audit committee to start meeting monthly. That change goes into effect in January.