Mayor Leary’s November Message
The Beginning Of The New Fiscal Year
October was the official start of the new fiscal year, with a balanced budget that maintains the current operating millage rate of 4.0923, which has not changed for the 12th straight year.
As well, by the end of this year’s budget we will have increased our General Fund Reserve, or our “rainy day fund,” to $15 million, which is 26% of our budgeted expenditures. Another important benchmark of our financial performance is property values. From 2014 to 2018, the overall value of Winter Park properties has increased by +33%, and from 2017 to 2018 we are up +8.8%.
Our overall budget is roughly $180.6 million, which includes all city funds: General Fund (city services such as administration, streets, garbage collection, police, fire and parks & recreation); Enterprise Funds (water & electric); Debt Service, Special Revenue Funds (CRA and storm water) and Capital Projects. In addition to maintaining and in some cases, expanding our current level of high-quality service, here are a few other items we have budgeted for this next fiscal year:
- police body cameras
- parking improvements adjacent to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park
- planting over 600 right-of-way and park trees
- underground electric lines keeping the utility on pace to have the entire system underground by the end of 2026
- upgrade Phelps Park and other community parks
- signalization, parking and pedestrian connectivity, as well as add a transportation planner position to assist in these efforts
Close to 71% of our property tax dollars are sent to Orange County and to Orange County Schools, and do not support the city services proposed in the budget. Forty percent of our General Fund budget ($24.4 million) is funded by property tax dollars, which is not enough to even cover the +$28.7 million needed to provide public safety (police and fire) services. Below is a breakdown of your property tax payment:
- 1% à Orange County Public Schools
- 8% à Orange County
- 7% à City services
- 9% à voted debt service
- 5% à St. John’s River Water Management
This is just a brief overview of this year’s budget. If you’d like to see more detail, please visit cityofwinterpark.org/Departments/Finance.
Thank you for the privilege to serve as your 54th mayor. I am grateful for your continued trust and support. Your city commission and +500 staff members wish you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.