City leaders authorized the final approval, reducing the millage rate from 5.82 to 5.65.
OCOEE – Residents of Ocoee will be receiving a modest tax break this following fiscal year courtesy of a millage rate reduction approved during Ocoee’s final budget hearing.
Following an 11% increase in property values that places Ocoee’s estimated values at $2.31 billion, city leaders lowered the millage rate from 5.8291 to 5.6546 — a 3.1% decrease.
With the millage rate set at 5.65, the city expects to generate $12,335,587 in property tax revenue — its largest source of revenue. The projected $12.3 million in revenue is a 4.5% increase from the property tax revenue collected in 2017, which totaled $11.8 million.
The city anticipates it will be able lower the millage rate even more once its downtown revitalization project is completed, because of the large increase in property values it will bring and the businesses expected to make Ocoee their home.
“With its completion, we’d have a bigger increase in the property values because all these new assets are going to come online and we’d anticipate the total revenue to increase proportionally,” said Ocoee’s Finance Director Bob Briggs. “So we’d have a smaller increase in our revenue requirement and a bigger increase in our property values and that translates into a lower millage rate.”
Despite the lower millage, the city’s finance department was able to balance the general fund budget at $48.2 million, which is used for the city’s annual operating expenses. This is a 16.2% increase from last year’s budget of $40.4 million.
The vast majority of this fiscal year’s expenses, Briggs noted, remain as usual: salaries and wages of city employees, which comprises 60 to 65% of the projected operating expenses, followed by payments to contractors, capital improvement projects and debt service.
Some of the larger funding increases in the 2018 budget, however, are for the police and fire departments, which Briggs said are mostly due to equipment purchases, the addition of six police officers (three of which are grant-funded), one police accreditation specialist and 24 new firefighters — all of which are also being funded via grants.
The city also plans to fund the addition of a part-time fire inspector and city clerk, a recreation leader and parks service worker for the parks and recreation department and two customer service representatives in the finance department.
A funding increase is also listed for the category of general government, which pays for the electric and water bills of the city’s facilities, city employee health insurance, debt service payments for capital projects, software, equipment, lease agreements and the like.
While last year’s budget included $11.4 million in funding for general government expenditures, this year’s budget includes $14.2 million — an increase of about 20%. However, a good portion of that increase is attributable to an 18.9% increase in the cost of health insurance premiums for the city’s employees, which jumped from $4.7 million in 2017 to $5.8 million in 2018.