WINTER GARDEN — City Finance Director Laura Zielonka presented next year's proposed budget at the Winter Garden City Commission's Aug. 27 meeting.
The millage rate will remain flat unchanged at 4.25, the third lowest rate in Orange County. The city's 12% increase in property value, combined with expected increases in sales tax revenue and state revenue share, will result in the city receiving about $2 million more in revenue than during the last fiscal year.
Zielonka and City Manager Mike Bollhoefer projected Winter Garden's General Fund Budget to grow to $30,844,011 in the next fiscal year. The city currently spends 52% of its budget on public safety, which includes police and fire departments.
Winter Garden expects its population to grow by more than 40,000 by the end of 2016 and plans to increase the police force to meet the needs of a growing city. The budget calls for hiring four additional police sergeants and one more crime scene investigator. The four sergeants will increase the city police force from 79 to 83 sworn officers. The fire department budget will increase 4%. The fire department doesn't plan any additional hires, but will upgrade some equipment.
The budget for the Parks and Recreation Department will increase by a little more than 14%, mainly because of capital improvements. The city budgeted $550,000 to pay for Phase One of the Tucker Ranch Heritage Park. Staff budgeted $400,000 for enhancements to the West Orange Trail through the city. The city also plans to offer employees a 3% cost of living/merit increase and pay increased insurance costs of 6%.
In other business, city commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone about 7.15 acres on the north side of Roper Road east of Winter Garden-Vineland Road and west of Daniels Road to city PUD. This will enable Sonata West to build a 115-person assisted-living facility on the site. Community Development Director Ed Williams told the commission that traffic studies showed the facility will not have a detrimental effect on traffic in that area.
IN OTHER NEWS
• The commission unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone about 7.15 acres on the north side of Roper Road east of Winter Garden-Vineland Road and west of Daniels Road to city PUD. This will enable Sonata West to build a 115-person assisted-living facility on the site. The facility will include a pool, pond, walking paths and other amenities. Community Development Manager Stephen Pash said only one resident came to the community meeting to discuss the project. Community Development Director Ed Williams said the city conducted traffic studies to assess the impact the facility will have on local roads. The developers will pay impact fees and their fair share for road improvements in the area.
• Commissioners unanimously approved ordinances to annex about 1 acre on the west side of Tildenville School Road north of West Colonial Drive and south of East Oakland Avenue and rezone it to single-family residential. Williams said this was a voluntary annexation. The property owner plans to build a single-family residence on the property and wants city services.
• The commission unanimously approved the final plat for 1205 and 1225 N. West Crown Point Road. This will clean up an old plat that dates back to the 1930s. The property owner plans to build a single-family home on each lot.
• Commissioners unanimously approved the site plan for 1291 Winter Garden-Vineland Road. The plan calls for a 9,000-square-foot office space in the front with flex space in the back.
• The commission unanimously approved renewing a traffic signal maintenance agreement with Control Specialists. Assistant City Manager for Public Service Don Cochran said Control Specialists has maintained traffic signals in the city since 2009. The contract allowed for a 5% increase per year, but the company only raised prices once during the term of this deal.
• Commissioners unanimously approved the site plan for 1309 Winter Garden-Vineland Road. The plan calls for building 15,000 square feet of office space to contain a medical office and a day care for special-needs children. Pash recommended approval. Under the terms of this agreement, the day care can’t change its mission without coming back before the commission for further approval.
• City Manager Mike Bollhoefer told commissioners the owners of the property at 160 Plant St. submitted plans that were approved by city staff and the Architectural Review Board. The owners now have 90 days from when the plans were approved to complete construction. Condemnation proceedings on this property were suspended three times to allow the owners to present a plan to bring the property up to code.
• Bollhoefer plans to schedule Winter Garden’s 9/11 Memorial ceremony at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 11. He also invited commissioners to attend a meeting on Sept. 15 in Ocoee’s Lakeshore Center to present the master plan for Plant and Franklin streets. He asked commissioners to review ordinances from other municipalities that regulate the use of bars in windows, and said he hoped in the near future to give them a chance to review an ordinance placing a moratorium on development along East Plant Street.
• The next commission meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in City Hall Commission Chambers, 300 W. Plant St.