Town officials debated the merits of increasing the millage rate by nearly .50 mills and modifying the town’s slogan.
Windermere residents might soon notice a slight increase in their property tax bills.
Town Manager Robert Smith presented the town's proposed tentative budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year during a workshop held Tuesday, July 24.
Windermere council members deliberated the longest on the funding, or lack thereof, needed for several infrastructure, sidewalk and road-improvement projects the town hopes to pursue in the future.
The town’s millage rate – the lowest in Orange County – has remained at 3.25 for the past four years. But Smith emphasized that with the millage rate at 3.25, there was simply no money to save for future projects.
Smith then recommended the town consider increasing to the town’s millage rate from 3.250 to 3.7425 – an increase of 0.492.
"It would bring us $340,000 – that's it,” said Smith when asked how much revenue the increase would generate. “So it's not a lot of money and it gets eaten up quick when you have many projects to fund. But if we keep the millage rate exactly the same, I would only have about $548 to put toward all of these projects."
Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn opposed any tax increase, but the council voted unanimously in favor of the proposed increase.
“We have roads to be maintained, sidewalks to be built … we have to do something to generate more money,” Council Member Bob McKinley said. “Grants are not a given.”
Council Member Jim O’Brien agreed and commented on the council’s responsibility to provide a high quality of life for the town’s residents.
The town’s next budget meeting will be held at town hall at 6 p.m., Monday, August 13.
Before discussion of the proposed budget took place, town leaders invited residents to express their opinions on whether they would like to have the town modify its slogan from its current “among the lakes” to “living among the lakes.”
At least 20 residents present at the meeting firmly opposed the proposed change, describing it as something you’d expect to see in a “cheesy advertisement” and a waste of the town’s money.
“This is something that has been part of the town for a long time … don’t change something unless you have a very good reason,” said longtime Windermere resident Angela Withers.
If the town were to approve the change, Smith said it would likely keep the current stationery and company cards until they run out but replacing the town’s five entrance signs with the new motto would cost roughly $25,000, Smith said.
"If they wanted to roll it out and say, 'hey, here is the new brand,' then we'd be looking at doing the five entrance signs. And that would be $25,000 that I put it in the budget for next year, but other than that, we would just wait until things are phased out or cycled out before we would order new stuff. I wouldn't want to waste what we currently have.”
After hearing from residents, Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn said the council will decide whether to change the slogan at the Aug. 14 council meeting.