Town of Windermere sets Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget

Town Council members voted to set the budget at $16,377,888, with a millage rate of 3.7425.


  • Southwest Orange
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Officials in the town of Windermere approved unanimously the budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24 at a final budget hearing Monday, Sept. 18, at Town Hall.

Town Council members voted to set the budget at $16,377,888, with a millage rate of 3.7425.

The millage rate is higher than the rolled back rate of 3.4593 mills by 8.19%.

Town Manager Robert Smith said the millage rate is equal to $1,000 dollars of assessed taxable value for a home. 

“The taxable value is reduced by homestead and other applicable exemptions,” he said. “The millage rate has stayed the same since the 2018-19 fiscal year. However, since the town will be receiving more tax revenue from last year, it is viewed as a tax increase even though the millage is the same. This amount over from last year is about $100,000 that would cover the increase in inflation.” 

In the proposed budget presentation, Smith said the town’s purpose and intent is “preserving the level of service and quality of life that the town residents and our customers are accustomed (to) all while maintaining the town’s financial viability.”

Smith said Windermere fulfills this by conservative estimates of revenue, control spending, better planning, state and federal appropriations, and federal grants.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Documents from the Orange County Property Appraiser list Windermere’s total taxable value at $953,993,989 — an increase of more than $77,712,655 from the previous fiscal year ($876,281,334).

According to Smith, the increase can be attributed to the increase in value of homes and the addition of homes in Windermere.

The annual revenue has increased since FY 2015-16 ($1,815,762) when the millage rate was set at 3.25. For FY 2018-19 ($2,433,876), the Town Council increased the millage rate to 3.7425, where it has remained since then. Smith said the increase was in preparation for the work supply plan, the multi-model path, and parks and recreation. 

When compared to other municipalities such as Orange County (4.4347), Oakland (6.5), Ocoee (5.05) and Winter Garden (4.5), the town has the lowest ad valorem rate. 

To estimate revenues, Smith said the town took a look at various factors, and the town has been conservative with its estimates. 

“Staff typically uses the past to predict the future where appropriate,” he said. “Typically utilizing the last 10 years of numbers and estimating means and escalators while taking out the anomalies.”

Smith said the Department of Revenue estimates do not come out until after the town’s presentation has become public, so the town will amend the details if staff agrees with the calculations. 

The budget for FY 23-24 is $6,536,065 more than the budget for the previous fiscal year. A majority of the revenue is from state appropriations. 

Smith said $1,000,000 will go towards Phase 1 of the Ward Trail project; $375,000 for the town’s wastewater study; $3,081,000 toward the town’s Central Phase Potable Water project; and $1,500,000 for the Windermere Road/Main Street intersection improvements. 

Although the town did not need to dip into its reserves for FY 22-23 or FY 21-22 because of the delay in receiving FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program monies and project approvals, the town will need to tap into its reserves this fiscal year by $88,041. 

Smith said this is because of the HMGP, ARPA and multi-model path projects intended to be constructed this fiscal year. 

After this fiscal year, the reserves will be at $1,500,000. If used, the reserves would be at $1,411,959.

 

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Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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