Winter Garden approves tentative budget, millage rate

The city is recommending keeping the millage rate at 4.5 mills, which will generate about $21.3 million in revenue, an increase of about $2.3 million.


  • West Orange Times & Observer
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The city of Winter Garden discussed its tentative budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 at a budget workshop Thursday, Aug. 25. 

In his first proposed operating budget submission, City Manager Jon C. Williams said the budget takes into consideration a recessionary environment, high inflation, supply chain issues and competition in the labor market. 

“As we developed the budget, our philosophy was pretty simple,” Williams explained. “Reserve existing levels of services, focus on employer retention and recruitment, and submit capital projects and programs that consider inflation and supply chain issues that will continue and impact the cost, pace and timeliness of the projects.”

GENERAL FUND

The General Fund, tentatively budgeted at $50,848,386, includes $28,076,777 for taxes; $11,419,080 for intergovernmental revenues; $5,500,556 for charges for service; $4,967,958 for permits, fees and special assessments; $835,181 for other revenue; and $48,834 for fines and forfeitures. 

The city is expecting the ad valorem taxes to come in at $21,351,106, utility and service taxes at $6,480,026 and local business tax at $245,645.

For this budget, Finance Director Laura Zielonka said the ad valorem taxable value increased by 12.1%. The city is recommending keeping the millage rate at 4.5 mills, which will generate about $21.3 million in revenue, an increase of about $2.3 million.

The city has kept the millage rate flat for the past five years. 

PROPOSED EXPENSE BUDGET

Zielonka echoed Williams’ assumptions that inflationary effects would continue and budgeted for increased costs for material, equipment and contractual services. The city also proposed adjustments for wage inflation and assumed supply chain delay issues likely would continue and impact timing of projects. 

Personnel and Operating Expenses total $45 million for the General Fund with more than 50% allocated for public safety; $15,294,851 for police and $9,603,705 for fire. The rest of the expenses include $6,750,017 for general government, $5,167,416 for culture and recreation, $3,335,895 for physical environment, $2,177,649 for transportation, $1,888,731 for building inspection, $649,542 for economic environment and $391,393 for code enforcement.  

The city currently has 379.5 full-time equivalent employees. The FY 2022-23 budget includes adding two new positions — an assistant utility billing manager and wastewater treatment operator trainee. 

Proposed Capital Projects for the General Fund come in at $3,074,734, with $1,045,379 for police; $1,108,189 for fire; $386,098 for general government; $345,611 for physical environment; $148,457 for culture and recreation; and $41,000 for building. 

The police funds will help to replace 14 marked vehicles, purchase a transit van for the community liaison unit, and allow for police building improvements and other police capital equipment. 

The fire funds will help the city to purchase a new fire engine, equipment replacement and fire station and building improvements. 

STREETS FUNDS

The Streets Funds include the Road Impact Fee Fund and the Local Option Gas Tax Fund. 

The city is working on several large projects, including the Dillard Street Improvement Project, estimated to start construction in November 2023; the Marsh Road Improvement and Roundabout, estimated to start construction this month; the Avalon Road Intersection Improvements, estimated to start construction in August 2023; and the Carter Road Intersection Improvements, estimated to start design in January 2023. 

In addition, Zielonka said $2 million was added to the budget for City Wide Street Resurfacing, which the city does every year. Some of the focus streets will include the Courtlea Park subdivision, Vineland Road, East Cypress Street, a portion of Marsh Road, North Main Street, New Stone Crest Boulevard, the Regal Pointe subdivision and South Main Street. 

ENTERPRISE FUNDS

The city’s Enterprise Funds are similar to traditional businesses where user fees are used to cover the cost of providing services such as water, wastewater, collections, distribution, solid waste and stormwater. 

The Utility Operating revenues are projected at $15,013,577, with $6,455,192 from sewer service; $6,311,681 from water sales; $1,933,080 from non-operating revenues; $210,955 from other revenue; and $102,669 from meter installations. 

Larger projects added for water distribution are for the east Winter Garden Water Main Improvements, the Avalon Road Utility Relocates and the Tildenville Road Water Main Extension. 

 

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