Windermere council members adopted the tentative millage rate and proposed 2018 budget during its first budget hearing held September 6.
WINDERMERE – During its first budget hearing Sept. 6, Windermere Town Council members adopted the tentative millage rate and proposed budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
The proposed millage rate, as passed in the preliminary hearing, is 3.25, which has stayed the same since 2015 and was reduced from 3.78 in 2014.
And the tentative budget, so called because it is determined by estimated future revenue and expenditures, is currently balanced at $5.4 million, or $5,440,864, to be exact.
The three top expenditures for the town in this year’s budget are reserved for the police department ($1.97 million), Parks and Recreation Department ($1.32 million) and Public Works Department ($1.27 million).
Despite the plan to keep the millage rate at 3.25, the rate is considered a tax increase because if the town had adopted the rollback rate, it still would have received the same amount in property tax revenue as last year due to an increase in property value.
“If we do not adopt the rollback rate — which means that you’re trying to receive the exact same amount of ad valorem taxes that you received the year prior – then it’s considered a tax increase,” Windermere Town Manager Robert Smith said. “Because our property values increased between four to five percent, we could have rolled back our millage rate to match the 1.90 we received in ad valorem revenue last year, but the council chose to keep it at 3.25 because, as everybody knows, costs go up.”
With a millage rate set at 3.25, a homeowner who owns a house valued at $300,000 could expect to pay $975 on their property tax bill to the town of Windermere, which does not include additional taxes levied by Orange County Government or Orange County Public Schools.
“We’re maintaining the level of service and quality of life without increasing their millage rate,” Smith said. “Because we did a lot of projects this past year, we’re pretty much just saving for more projects in upcoming years because of that charter constraint that we have. You know, so we’re just putting money away in the piggy bank so that we can afford those projects later on. There (aren’t) many projects that we can do next year, but hopefully, we’ll be able to fund some projects in fiscal year 2018-2019.”
Currently, there is only one project listed for funding this year — the sidewalk between Main and Sixth streets that would extend to Lake Street. The council is scheduled to discuss the possible reallocation of funds for other proposed capital projects during the next meeting. The final budget hearing is set for 6 p.m., Sept. 25, at Windermere Town Hall.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]