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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Sep. 10, 2020 1 month ago

Oakland passes first hearing of tentative $21.5 million budget

Commissioners also approved a 6.5 millage rate. The second public hearings are Tuesday, Sept. 22.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

The Oakland Town Commission held its first of two budget hearings Wednesday, Sept. 9, to approve the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget. The town is proposing a total budget of $21,460,631 and a millage rate of 6.5.

In his memo to the commission, Town Manager Steve Koontz wrote: “There is much uncertainty with the health of the U.S. economy, and this budget includes a decline in sales tax revenues from the previous year. After two years of reducing the property tax millage, the recommendation is to keep the property tax millage at 6.50 mills because of the economic uncertainty.

“It is a staff priority to continue to reduce the millage, and there should be opportunities in coming years to do so as the economy stabilizes and commercial development moves forward in the town.”

In a presentation to commissioners, Koontz outlined the highlights of the 2020-21 budget.

Oakland’s budget is broken down into three funds: General, Utility and Oakland Avenue Charter School.

The General Fund is budgeted at $6,303,364. Koontz said property values increased by 17% and the reserves balance increased $650,000.

Other increases are Orange County Fire Rescue (by $120,000), employee salaries, health insurance rates, staffing support for the Oakland Nature Preserve and an operating budget for the Health West Orange Arts and Heritage Center. Changes includes an additional 1% in retirement for matching purposes and an increase to the Oakland Police Department retirement contribution.

The Impact Fees portion of the budget is $5,334,728. Expenditures include the Oakland Avenue roundabout, the development of Starr Street to West Colonial Drive, an expansion of the wastewater system at Longleaf at Oakland, improvements to Speer Park and Jake Voss Pier, and body cameras for police officers

The Utility Fund is budgeted at $4,024,156. Koontz said this includes funding for three grant projects: conversion of septic to sewer, Lift Station 5 and extension of the force main; a 3% salary increase; an increase to health insurance rates; and funding for a water and wastewater rate study.

The charter school has a budget of $5,798,383. This includes a VPK program; the CARES Act funding; and COVID-19 expenses including staffing, nurse, janitorial and personal protective equipment supplies.

The final public hearing for the FY 2020-21 budget is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Town Meeting Hall, 221 N. Arrington St.

The previous fiscal year budget was $17,317,840.

Amy Quesinberry is the community editor of the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She was born and raised in Winter Garden, grew up reading the community newspaper and has been employed there as a writer, photographer and editor since 1990....

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