Winter Garden discusses proposed budget

Commissioners approved the first reading of the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget, as well as the final site plan for C/Life Church.

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  • | 1:36 p.m. September 9, 2020
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Winter Garden’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21 looks smaller this year, but staff is confident a conservative approach will help the city remain on sound financial ground.

City leaders held the first of two budget hearings during their Sept. 3 City Commission meeting, with the second set for Sept. 17.

The 2020-21 budget is based on a 4.50 millage rate, which has remained static for three years. Despite a decrease in major sources of revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic, City Manager Mike Bollhoefer told commissioners in July the city was in good financial shape and staff didn’t believe a millage increase was necessary.

In his budget message, Bollhoefer told commissioners staff chose to take a conservative approach to the FY 2020-21 budget because of the uncertainty of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy.

Bollhoefer said staff developed a “fiscally responsible” budget for the upcoming fiscal year that will help preserve the city’s financial condition. Despite the tighter budget, he said, the quality of services citizens receive will not be compromised. 

City documents state projected revenues available for the General Fund total $41,019,254, while revenues available for the CRA Fund total $1,607,968. Revenues include collection of ad valorem taxes.

Bollhoefer said the General Fund revenues budget for FY 2020-21 represents a 5.5% decrease — about $2,366,986 — from the prior fiscal year, largely because of the projected decrease in the intergovernmental revenues.

Despite the decrease, Bollhoefer said the city is in sound financial condition with a low debt burden and “a responsible level” of fund balances. Although the millage rate didn’t increase, ad valorem tax revenue is projected to increase by about $1.65 million because of a 9.7% increase in property values. 

Additionally, the projected unassigned fund balance in the General Fund at the end of the fiscal year is budgeted at $21,877,321 — or 53% of expenditures — which offers a cushion should projected revenues not be met or if there are any unexpected expenditures.

“I tasked all of our departments to work diligently on their operational budgets to reduce variable operating costs by 10% — not counting salaries and benefits — and still meet the quality municipal-service delivery standards that our constituents have come to expect,” Bollhoefer wrote in his message.



A local church soon will be calling Winter Garden home.

Commissioners unanimously approved the site plan for what will become C/Life Orlando’s permanent campus. Located on 5.44 acres at 12201 W. Colonial Drive, the site once hosted a Camping World RV dealership. The property is east of Carter Road and west of State Road 429.

“It has since closed, and C/Life Church has purchased the property,” said Community Development Director Steve Pash. “They’ve gone through site-plan review with the Development Review Committee, and they’ve worked with the Department of Transportation to incorporate a better entrance and exit. It’ll cross-access with the development next door, it will get a facelift on the building, and landscaping is consistent with the State Road 50 overlay.”

According to city documents, the existing 22,876-square-foot building will be renovated, although the overall footprint won’t change. The existing 2,237-square-foot covered entrance will remain, as will 4,427 square feet of the front of the building facing S.R. 50. Toward the middle will be a 3,977-square-foot canopy connecting the front with a 12,133-square-foot rear building.

Mayor John Rees questioned the traffic flow and asked if the church would need a police officer directing traffic on Sundays. City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said if the church needed an officer, it would have to pay for it.

C/Life Church posted on social media it will host a groundbreaking ceremony at 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13.


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