Windermere put its new fiscal year into focus during a Sept. 7 budget hearing.
Town Council members, in a combination of in-person and virtual attendance, voted to set the tentative budget of $7,777,777 proposed during a July 26 budget workshop. The tentative millage rate of 3.7425 also was set.
Documents from the office of Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado list Windermere’s total taxable value at $800,849,916 — an increase of more than $40 million from the previous fiscal year.
According to Town Manager Robert Smith, the increase can be attributed partially to the Estancia at Windermere luxury-home development, which was completed last year.
“We’re starting to realize the taxable value for that development in addition to an increase in Windermere home values over the last couple of years,” Smith said.
The largest contributors to the estimated General Fund revenue of $7,426,893 include: $490,000 from the 1/2-cent sales tax, $335,274.95 from the solid waste tax, $200,000 from Windermere Wine & Dine and $745,000 from the American Recovery Act.
“It’s an anomaly this year,” said Smith of the American Recovery Act funds. “Typically, our budget wouldn’t be this large, but because we’re receiving those funds, it is this large.”
The addition of a Stormwater Fund revenue of $350,884 brings total revenues to $7,777,777.
However, according to Smith, some of the town’s biggest planned projects will not rely on budget funds.
“Our approved funded projects, either through a grant or general operating funds or through American Recovery Act dollars, are the West Second Avenue Road stormwater and potable water improvements, Bessie Basin stormwater and potable water improvements, and Butler Basin stormwater and potable water improvements,” he said.
All three projects are covered under an Hazard Mitigation Grant Program of $3.3 million, which is funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and administered through the Department of Emergency Management.
“(The grant) doesn’t include the potable water system aspects, which will be covered through the America Rescue Act dollars,” Smith said.
The designs for all three projects are nearly complete and are required to be submitted to Department of Emergency Management by December.
Windermere also is expecting federal money for the Safe Routes to School Project. The process of requesting the funding began in March with help from Windermere Mayor James O’Brien and U.S. Rep. Val Demings.
“The Safe Routes to School Program (funding) is $760,000 toward phase 1 of our Windermere Ward Trail,” Smith said. “The trail is a multimodal path system from North Avenue to Windermere Elementary School and includes sidewalk and trail improvements and also a new bridge over the canal.”
The Safe Routes to School Project funding is expected in the fall. The final budget vote is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, at Windermere Town Hall.