The Oakland Town Commission held a budget hearing Monday, Sept. 11, and approved the tentative millage rate and tentative budget for Fiscal Year 2023-24, which begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2024.
The proposed millage rate for the new fiscal year is 6.3, the same rate as the current fiscal year. The town typically lowers the millage rate every two years. The millage rate was 6.75 for FY 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18. In FY18-19, the rate was 6.65, followed by two years at 6.5 and one year at 6.4. It was lowered to 6.3 for FY 2022-23.
“Our budget is balanced with 6.3 mills,” Town Manager Andy Stewart said.
Stewart said the town could not lower the millage rate without affecting town services.
“We did not decrease the millage rate because of increases to the General Fund (expenses),” Stewart said. “Orange County Fire Rescue (expenses) increased.”
The tentative FY 2023-24 budget was approved at $25,931,440. This breaks down to $8,574,987 for the General Fund, $5,443,585 for the Utility/Enterprise Fund, $5,307,307 for the Impact Fee Fund and 6,605,561 for the Oakland Avenue Charter School.
Stewart shared details of the budget in a report to the commission.
The budget for the General Fund includes a 4% cost-of-living increase for town staff and a 4% increase to the employees’ health insurance premiums; two temporary succession-planning positions in finance and public works; and reallocates the administrative assistant position in the town manager’s office to the vacant facility rentals coordinator position at the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center. The reallocation will allow the center to extend operating hours during the week and enhance activities and programs for residents. The transfer saves the town $60,000 in payroll expenses.
The Enterprise Budget funds a new utility service worker position in the water department and funds the design of the town’s Lake Apopka alternative water source project.
There have been no changes to the Impact Fee budget.
The General Fund has a contingency of $220,933, and Stewart said Oakland’s auditor wants the town to have more in reserves.
“The contingency does provide a good cushion,” Stewart said.
“There’s a lot of work that’s gone into this, and I will say this is a pretty tight budget this year,” Mayor Kathy Stark said. “There’s not a lot of room for expenditures unless we find grants.”
The final budget hearing is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, at the Oakland Meeting Hall.
The regular Town Commission meeting followed the budget hearing. Elected officials approved the consent agenda, which included approval for assignments identified as out-of-field for 17 teachers at the charter school. All but two were identified as out-of-field in the area of English as a Second Language.
In the town manager’s report, Stewart announced Regan Reynolds was hired as human resources director and administrative specialist Stefanie Hicks has been tapped to fill the position of facility rentals coordinator.
Also in Stewart’s report, he said the town will be submitting a request to the state legislature for the south Lake Apopka septic-to-sewer initiative in the amount of $650,000. This project will extend central sewer to the four existing municipal buildings currently served by septic systems, provide central sewer to the two adjacent utility buildings, provide for septic system elimination to about 15 existing residential and commercial properties, and provide capacity to serve future development in the area.
IN OTHER NEWS
• The town of Oakland proclaimed Sept. 17 to 23 Constitution Week.
• Mayor Kathy Stark announced her State of the Town address will be given Monday, Oct. 16, at the Oakland Meeting Hall.