Winter Garden sets FY 2021-22 millage rate

The city’s millage rate will remain at 4.5 mills for the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year.

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  • | 12:48 p.m. July 14, 2021
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Following the latest Winter Garden City Commission meeting, the city’s millage rate is set to remain static at 4.5 mills.

Commissioners unanimously voted to keep the current millage rate during their July 8 meeting. Additionally, they voted to set the budget hearing dates for Fiscal Year 2021-22 for Sept. 15 and 29.

The 4.5 millage rate has been in place since FY 2018-19. Previously, Winter Garden’s millage rate stayed at 4.25 for eight years.

The Truth in Millage legislation timetable requires city staff to advise the property appraiser of the proposed millage rate by noon July 30. TRIM also mandates that local governments are not permitted to hold their budget hearings on the same dates as Orange County Public Schools or the Orange County Board of County Commissioners. 

Additionally, TRIM states the millage rate established by the commission cannot be increased after July 30, unless each property owner is notified by mail. However, it can be lowered at either budget hearing without notification.

According to city documents, the current gross taxable value for the upcoming year is projected at $4,407,338,459. That number represents a 7.48% increase in taxable value over FY 2020-21 — an increase of $306,677,245. One mill generates about $4,407,338 in revenue.

“We’re recommending keeping this millage at this point in time at the same amount,” City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said. “As you know, per the law, at a later date after you vote for the budget, the commission can lower the millage, but they can’t raise it higher without having to go through the TRIM process again. So we always recommend at the first hearing (to set millage) to keep it at the same rate or to raise it. Our recommendation is to keep the millage at the same rate because we believe it’s sufficient to fund what we need to fund for the city.”

Even throughout the coronavirus pandemic and facing a decrease in sales tax and state-shared revenues, city leaders kept the current millage rate last fiscal year. That was mainly due to budget cuts and having a sufficient fund balance. 

“I remember sitting out there several years ago when we moved it up to 4.5, and Commissioner (Colin) Sharman … wanted to make sure that was the right thing to do and wanted to make sure that it didn’t continue going up,” Commissioner Ron Mueller said. “It has stayed like this now for several years, and I really appreciate that fact — and our residents have — in fulfilling that promise.”

“My pause was satisfied because we were able to give our police officers and first responders a raise that was much needed, so it was a good decision,” Sharman said.

Mayor John Rees added that Winter Garden still has one of the lowest millage rates in the county.



Additionally, commissioners approved Ordinance 21-17, a request to vacate a section of drainage and utility easement over the property at 208 Trail Bridge Court in Courtlea Oaks.

The .44-acre property is currently developed with a single-family home. The applicant wants to vacate the easement recorded in the original plat because they recently received a portion of the former Perkins Street right of way. This causes the existing easement to be located in the middle of what is now the rear yard.

The easement vacation allows the applicant to develop the rear yard without having to work around the easement.

“The owners are required to execute a drainage and utilities easement that runs along the sides and rear of the former right of way portion of the subject property,” according to city documents.



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