Ocoee residents will be seeing a decrease in their taxes in the upcoming fiscal year.
City leaders voted unanimously during the final budget hearing Sept. 26 to adopt ordinance 2018-033, which sets the city’s millage rate at 5.5 mills for fiscal year 2018-2019. Commissioners also voted unanimously to adopt ordinance 2018-034, which sets the final budget.
The millage rate for FY 2017-18 was 5.6546. The millage rate of 5.5 mills for fiscal year 2018-19 is 2.145% higher than the rollback rate of 5.3820 mills. Revenues for fiscal year 2018-2019 total $80,355,941, and expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year total $77,082,617, according to Finance Director Rebecca Roberts.
Mayor Rusty Johnson said the city is able to lower the millage rate because of new businesses that have been coming into the city.
“We can financially do it with the growth that we’ve had in economic development,” Johnson said. “We can afford to do that. … We are starting to get commercial (businesses). We are starting to get economic development that pays more taxes into the city.”
Roberts added that, because of this growth, there are more properties in the community that can be taxed.
“The millage rate they set it at provides even more revenue,” she said. “Because of the growth … we have more properties that are in our community. So, as more properties are taxed, the (millage) rate can go lower and still generate enough revenues.”
During public comments, Chris Adkins was the only resident who spoke about the budget. Like he did at Sept. 12 budget hearing, Adkins suggested commissioners lower the millage rate and consider funding an audit of each of the city’s departments.
“A lot of people tie this (audit) directly to financial issues, and that’s not necessarily the case when you’re doing an audit,” Adkins said, adding that he has a background in operations and audits. “(An audit is) about efficiency, it’s about productivity, it’s about hard assets. An audit goes much deeper than a dollar figure.”
Commissioner John Grogan, a certified auditor, said he supported the idea of conducting an audit by department.
“I definitely still think we should be doing one,” Grogan said. “We got to figure it out … department by department and go from there.”
Commissioner George Oliver also supported the idea of an audit.
“I would support an audit if we can come to some kind of consensus as to how we will go about doing it, when we would go about doing it and what would be the cost to do such an audit,” Oliver said.
Adkins also mentioned the need for a new fire station in the northwest area of the city. In response, Grogan said a fire station in the northwest part of the city is in the works. He then informed Adkins of a presentation pertaining to a proposed fire station in the northwest area of the city that was given during the Sept. 18 commission meeting. The presentation was delivered by representatives of Summit Construction, who proposed building the new fire station through a public-private partnership.
“We’re working on that (fire station) right now,” Grogan said. “It’s gonna be going in … that’s happening.”