Once more, Ocoee residents may have their property taxes decrease.
In fewer than 15 minutes, the Ocoee Commission unanimously approved the city’s tentative budget and millage rate during its first budget meeting Wednesday, Sept. 9.
The first item discussed was the tentative millage rate for 2020-21, tentatively set at 5.15 mills. The rate is 0.1 mills — or $317,264 — lower than the tentative millage rate approved by the commission previously.
Last fiscal year — 2019-20 — the millage rate was set at 5.25 mills, and this fiscal year’s proposed decrease to 5.15 marks the possible second consecutive decrease for the city. The news was met with appreciation from Mayor Rusty Johnson and the commissioners.
“I think I had all of my questions answered at our workshop, and personally I’d like to thank the city staff because bringing it in at 5.15 — especially in this trying time and knowing we have to adhere to this budget very stringently — I’m pleased that it is at that point,” Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen said. “So thank you to all of the staff that worked at this and for all of our employees … and to our residents, because we know there is high unemployment and we do want to provide the services that we have been providing all along without any break.”
“Kudos to the staff for bringing such a low millage rate — especially during the times that we are in dealing with a global pandemic and we’re able to come in with a millage rate this low,” Commissioner George Oliver said.
Meanwhile, the tentative total Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget was set at $85,175,249 — almost $2 million more than 2019-20 — while the General Fund budget was tentatively set at $52,907,051.
In the tentative General Fund, the city will have increases and decreases in a number of categories, including more money for items such as parks, recreation and maintenance operations. Spending on general government services and street operations is slightly less than last year’s budget.
Although there is still one final budget meeting left, overall, those in the city’s government feel confident that despite all the issues brought on by the pandemic, the city is in a good place financially.
“Once again, great job — staff, city manager and all the employees, we appreciate it and we thank you,” Johnson said. “Finance department: Thank you very much, and commissioners, we thank you for being attentive to this and working on the budget and looking at it and seeing what we have to do. I think the citizens should be happy with this.
“With what’s going on with COVID-19 and what’s happening in our country, this just shows that our city is doing a fine job and staying on top of everything,” he said.
The second and final budget meeting for the city will be held Wednesday, Sept. 23. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, City Hall will be closed, but those interested can watch the meeting live at ocoee.org/OcoeeTV or tune into Ocoee TV on Spectrum Channel 493.