The city plans to fund the construction of a new fire station, an aquifer replenishment project and a roundabout on Marsh Road in the 2018 budget.
WINTER GARDEN – City commissioners passed the first reading of a proposed $36.2 million budget for 2018 during a tentative budget hearing held Thursday, Sept. 14.
The proposed budget estimates its projected revenue for 2018 based on a millage rate of 4.25 this year, which remains unchanged from last year. At a rate of 4.25 and a welcome 10% increase in property values, the city can expect $12.4 million in property tax revenue — about a $1.16 million increase from last year.
With the city’s total projected revenue of $36,228,305 — a 9.5% revenue increase from the 2017 budget’s revenue — and projected expenditures at $35,654,966, this year’s projected revenue is expected to exceed proposed expenditures by $573,339.
According to Winter Garden City Manager Mike Bollhoefer, city leaders plan to use the revenue to pay for the construction of a new fire station and roundabout on Marsh Road, the addition of more police cars, a 3% blanket increase in city employees’ salaries and a 6% increase in how much it pays for city employee health care costs.
The new fire station — the biggest single-item hit to the budget at $1.7 million — will be the fourth and final fire station to be added to the city, Bollhoefer said. The station, which will be constructed right off Marsh Road in the southwest quadrant of the city, has been in plans for years because of expected population growth rates.
The second big-ticket item on the budget is a transportation improvement project in the form of a roundabout planned for Marsh Road that will cost another $1 million.
“The Hickory Hammock entrance doesn’t work too well now, so we’re going to be putting a roundabout in there, and that’s another million-dollar project,” Bollhoefer said. “We needed either a traffic light or a roundabout, but a roundabout tends to work better since Marsh Road has more roundabouts and those work better when you have a series of them.”
A third project expected to take a large slice out of the city’s budget this year is the aquifer recharge project, which is being partially funded by a state grant. With a price tag of $1.1 million, the project is part of a statewide groundwater replenishment initiative intended to help recharge Florida’s aquifers by recycling groundwater, Bollhoefer said.
Other noteworthy items listed for funding this year include the 209-acre organic farm and nature park projected to open in spring 2018 at Tucker Ranch ($800,000); the addition of six more police patrol vehicles ($200,000); the replacement of two code enforcement vehicles that are in bad shape ($40,000); a new fire engine ($700,000) and about $500,000 dedicated to road repaving projects that are yet to be determined.
The second and final budget hearing for the city’s 2018 budget is scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28, at the Winter Garden City Hall.