The Oakland Town Commission approved the first reading of the tentative budget and tentative millage rate for Fiscal Year 2022-23 and set the date for the second and final reading at its Sept. 12 budget workshop and regular meeting.
The tentative budget for the Impact Fees Fund, Utility Fund and General Fund was approved at $28,079,668, and the tentative millage rate was set at 6.3. The second reading and public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Town Meeting, 221 N. Arrington St.
The commission previously approved the tentative fiscal year budget for Oakland Avenue Charter School in June.
“Since the initial approval of the budget, there has been some changes and updates to the budgets,” Town Manager Steve Koontz wrote in a detailed memo to the Town Commission. “The OACS budget has been updated based on the state revenue calculator that was available in July and some additional considerations concerning maintenance and salaries. The General Fund budget has been updated to reflect the latest revenue estimates from the state of Florida. The budget reflects funding from the property tax millage at a rate of 6.30, which is a reduction of the 6.40 millage rate that was in place for FY 2022.
“The General Fund also includes the Oakland Avenue Charter School HVAC renovation project of $1.1 million, which is the remainder of the funding for the project,” Koontz wrote. “It reflects the lease proceeds and the construction of the project. There is funding included for one new police officer and five grant-funded teacher aid positions for OACS.
The budget includes 4% salary increase for town staff, 5% for directors and 4% for Oakland Police Department and includes a 14% retirement contribution for sworn officers in order to be competitive with other agencies.”
Mayor Kathy Stark pointed out in the workshop that the town’s millage rate, while higher than other municipalities in the area, must include the Orange County Fire Rescue costs, which is mandated by the county.
“We are not allowed to separate our fire from the rest of the millage,” she said. “If you take fire out … which is what we would like to do with Orange County … we’d be sitting at four-point-something. It’s about 2.2 mills … what unincorporated Orange County residents pay. If people look at our millage rate and say it’s 6.3 and Ocoee is 4.9, if we took out the fire we would be around that rate.”
The town has been able to decrease its millage rate almost annually — from 6.75 in 2018 to the proposed rate of 6.3 — because of proper planning, Town Manager Steve Koontz said.
“I feel like at one point we had one of the highest property values in the area,” Stark said. “I think the work we have done — this place will have cache 20, 30, 40 years from now. It will be like Winter Park, but with better traffic, or Windermere or Winter Garden. And I think that has a lot to do with how much the staff has done.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS:
• Commissioners approved the consent agenda, which included the following: acceptance of an easement at 17500 Broad Street and a pedestrian easement for American Tower Utility, right-of-way acquisition of Catherine Ross Road, approval of a concession lease agreement, and a letter of support for MetroPlan Fiscal Year 2022 Safe Streets and Roads for All Discretionary Grant Opportunity.
• The commission approved the first public hearing of an ordinance that provides protection of the new municipal logo.
“The commission had already approved the logo,” Town Manager Steve Koontz said. “This puts it in the code and gives the commission control over the town’s logo. It gives us the ability to govern our own logo.”
• Commissioners passed the first public hearing of an ordinance that updates the Buildings and Building regulation chapter of the town’s Code of Ordinances. It deals with numbering of buildings, development review fees, construction permitting, permit fees and penalties, construction hours, building permits and inspections, and enforcement procedures and appeals.
“When I moved here, and I went into the old town hall; they argued for half an hour whether my address was correct or not,” Stark said. “We’ve come a long way. I’ve been in office since 1994, (Commissioner) Mike Satterfield was right behind me; everyone else has tenure. And we’ve been working on this for years. It’s a process, and I think we’ve done an amazing job.”
• The elected officials adopted a 10-year Water Supply Facility Work Plan as required by the St. Johns River Water Management District.
• The town proclaimed Sept. 17 through 23 Constitution Week.