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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2019 3 weeks ago

Oakland passes tentative millage rate, budget

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The Town Commission will hold the final budget public hearing Tuesday, Sept. 24.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor

The Oakland Town Commission approved its first round of tentative budget hearings for Fiscal Year 2020 Monday, Sept. 9. The total budget impact for the upcoming year is $17,317,840.

This amount includes the proposed millage rate of 6.50; proposed budgets of $5,504,356 for the General Fund, $3,306,951 for the Utility Fund and $3,170,271 for impact fees; and the proposed $5,336,262 budget for Oakland Avenue Charter School.

OACS runs on the state fiscal year that runs July 1 through June 30, and the Town Commission approved the proposed budget earlier this summer. The final budget, once approved, will replace the proposed budget, Town Manager Steve Koontz said in his budget presentation to the commission.

During the budget process, the town’s main goals were to reduce the millage rate, set aside adequate reserves and plan for future infrastructure projects. These goals were met, Koontz wrote in his presentation.

The millage rate was reduced from 6.65 to 6.50.

The General Fund has budgeted reserves of $248,392, and property values in the town increased by 24%, with new construction contributing to much of that.

The General Fund had several significant changes, including an increase of $120,508 in the amount budgeted for fire service due to the increased property values; funding to lease three police cars; moving two part-time positions to full time; increased funding to the Oakland Nature Preserve; a 3% raise for staff based on performance appraisals; and funding to cover increased costs for medical insurance.

The Utility Fund has budgeted reserves of $817,321. Koontz said the utility adds 10 to 15 new customers each month, and the growth of the fund revenues has been projected at 5%. Included in this portion of the budget is a state appropriation of $946,890 for the next phase of the wastewater project along Sadler Avenue and an extension to the Oakland Avenue industrial park; funding for a pump replacement and a new replacement utility vehicle; plus the raise and increased insurance costs.

Impact fees collected by the town fro builders and developers can be used for capacity improvements for projects including the water system, roads and parks, Koontz said. These funds are divided between administrative facilities, fire protection, law enforcement, parks and recreation, transportation and the water and wastewater systems. Main projects for FY 2020 include water system improvements at East Gulley Avenue and at Oakland Avenue near Hull Island Road, the roundabout project at Oakland Avenue and Old Highway 50, and initial funding to begin planning the Speer Park improvements.

The charter school, funded through the state of Florida education allocation and the Orange County Public Schools millage, has budgeted reserves of $398,646. A dedicated finance position, a facility supervisor position and continued funding for a school resource officer are included, as are the funding for raises and insurance increases and funding for the new-teacher salary schedule. The air-handling unit and condenser in the school cafeteria must be replaced, as well, and will cost about $163,000.

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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