Millages for sheriff, COA to appear on August ballot


OSCEOLA COUNTY — Come the August election, voters will decide if they want to continue 24-hour Sheriff's office road patrol coverage throughout the county and support local senior citizens through the Osceola County Commission on Aging.

County commissioners unanimously approved language for two separate millages at an April 19 meeting.

The first concerns the COA, with Scott Schryer, Osceola County Commission on Aging executive director, seeking to capture the remaining 0.2 of the 1 mill cap. If approved by voters, the COA would raise about $140,000.

Schryer first addressed the commissioners about the millage on April 5, saying the COA has been consistently growing for the past 18 months and he believes it will continue to grow. Currently the organization is serving nearly 700 senior citizens throughout the county and adds more every day. Because of the increase in patrons, Schryer said there needs to be a decision made regarding future funding.

The COA has four years left on its 0.8 millage proposal, which was passed in 1986, but Schryer wants to capture the remaining 0.2 mils for the next four years to begin receiving the full 1 mil the state allows for such agencies.

"I'm excited," Schryer said about the commissioners voting in approval of the millage. "I think for people to vote yes it will take educating the public on why we need this. All of the money will purely be going into services, and it'll be nice to do that. I'm hopeful people will vote yes, but I'm very cautious."

The second millage proposal to be found on the August ballot is a renewal of the 24-hour-a-day patrol by Osceola County Sheriff's deputies at 1 mill for six years. There are no changes to the millage and if approved by voters it will capture about $700,000, according to Undersheriff Justin Halladay.

"Renewing the millage will guarantee 24-hour coverage to the citizens of Osceola County," Halladay said. "Safety is the utmost importance and people need to know they will be able to get help when it's needed."

The original road patrol millage was passed 20 years ago and has been renewed several times since, so Halladay believes residents should feel just as comfortable voting yes again. The Osceola County Sheriff's Office is the only entity providing 24-hour coverage for the county, offering at least two deputies on duty at one time, and because the office is handling more complaints than ever, a renewal of the millage is necessary, he said.