Ocoee budget passes its first reading

City leaders adopted a tentative millage rate of 6.5 mils with the intention of lowering it to 5.5 mils at the final budget hearing.

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  • | 10:38 p.m. September 19, 2018
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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During the city of Ocoee’s first budget hearing, held Wednesday, Sept. 12, city leaders adopted a tentative proposed budget balanced at 5.5 mills and a tentative millage rate of 6.5.

The City Commission typically adopts a higher millage rate during the city’s budget workshops and preliminary budget hearings and lowers it during the final budget hearing, Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson said.

This is because the tentative millage rate adopted during the city’s first tentative budget hearing becomes the maximum millage rate the city can approve during the final budget hearing, City Attorney Scott Cookson said. 

So adopting a higher tentative millage rate at the start gives city staff some flexibility in case a new project or initiative in need of funding is proposed during later budget discussions. 

The city’s current rate is 5.6546 mills, Ocoee Finance Director Rebecca Roberts said. The city estimates to generate $85,115,289  million in revenue, according to budget documents. This is a $11,656,328 or 13.7% increase from the city’s 2017-18 budget, in which the city generated $73,458,961 in revenue.

Roberts informed commissioners the budget was slightly modified since the City Commission held its budget workshop on Aug. 8.

“There have been a couple of changes to the budget … we have added $75,000 to the general fund to cover lease payments for a temporary space to house human resources during the construction of the new City Hall; a vehicle was moved from Public Works administration, which was a General Fund account, and that is now being funded through stormwater; and there were some other minor changes that did not affect the bottom line at all,” Roberts said.

When the hearing was opened for public feedback, two residents commented on the budget and made suggestions on what should be added.

Chris Adkins suggested the city lower its millage rate to reflect surrounding cities, make Founders’ Day its own line item on the budget to increase transparency and consider funding financial audits for each of the city’s departments.

“Every year, we do a financial audit of the overall city but we don’t do it by department, and it’s never been done,” Adkins said. “(Commissioner John) Grogan explained that last year, it was a $20,000 increase over the ($60,000), so they were unable to go forward with that particular audit. It’s my opinion that it is imperative for (growth management) to audit this going forward.”

In response to Adkins’ concern about Founders’ Day, Johnson explained how the city includes the celebration’s expenses and proposed the city can include the income it receives from Founders’ Day during the mid-year budget. 

“On Founders’ Day, in the budget, it shows about ($115,000) — that’s it,” Johnson said. “We don’t show we raised over $350,000, (which is) not taxpayers’ money. When we get through with Founders’ Day, taxpayer money is not used — every bit is paid back.”

Regarding Adkins’ comments on lowering the millage rate, Johnson said Winter Garden is actually considering an increase in their current millage rate. The neighboring city’s leaders plan to increase the millage rate to 4.50 from its current 4.25 — a move city commissioners approved on first reading last week.

Joel Keller, a former Ocoee commissioner, requested the city look into possibly funding a traffic light at the intersection of Hackney Prairie and Clarke roads.

“On Clarke Road … (when) the traffic gets down toward Clarcona-Ocoee (Road), it backs up to the point where it’s past the entrance to Majestic Elm (Boulevard) from about 4:30 to probably 6:30 at night,” Keller said. “It’s impossible to get out of Prairie Lake and make a left-hand turn onto Clarke because … you can’t see the traffic coming at you to make a safe left-hand turn. What I would like to see, if possible, is can we put money for a traffic light at Hackney Prairie (Road) …and Clarke Road.”

Ocoee City Manager Robert Frank said city staff has noticed the traffic on Clarke Road and is looking into possibly conducting a traffic study at that intersection and assessing the whole corridor to see what is needed and what can be done. The issue will be revisited once the city obtains the results of the study, Frank said.

The second and final budget hearing will be held Wednesday, Sept. 26.


General Fund: $52.7 million

Stormwater: $4.72 million

CRA: $2.74 million

Water/wastewater: $13.5 million

Sanitation: $5.37 million

Road impact fees: $2.15 million

Fire impact fees: $335,426

Police impact fees: $243,347

Recreation impact fees: $511,120

Water Capital: $790,300

Wastewater Capital: $2.04 million

TOTAL: $85.1 million


General Fund: $52.7 million

Stormwater: $4.72 million

CRA: $2.74 million

Water/wastewater: $13.5 million

Sanitation: $3.36 million

Road impact fees: $1.33 million

Fire impact fees: $250,000

Police impact fees: $140,000

Recreation impact fees: $431,000

Water Capital: $209,000

Wastewater Capital: $440,000

TOTAL: $79.83 million



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