The first hearing of the ordinance pertaining to adopting the fiscal year (FY) 2021 Millage Rates was held at this week’s Winter Park City Commission meeting, which took place September 9. The presented ordinance called for an operating millage rate of 4.0923 mills, the same level that has been in place for the last twelve years. The ordinance also called for a debt service millage rate of 0.1263. The commissioners approved the ordinance as presented, but a second hearing will be held at the succeeding September 23 commission meeting.
At the city commission meeting held on July 22, the commissioners agreed to bring an 11.5% increase to the city millage rate to a vote at the same September 23 meeting. Some citizens were displeased with this motion, leading to Winter Park resident Bill Sullivan organizing a campaign through which he distributed yard signs opposing the increase to other concerned residents.
At this week’s meeting, Mayor Steve Leary proposed a decrease in the millage rate, which would roll it back to 3.9509, but this did not receive support from the other commission members. Leary expressed that a reduction would show residents support and understanding during the difficult economic period brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, however other commissioners shared concern that the reduced rate would not allow enough of a contingency in the City’s budget.
“A $51,000 deficit in our contingency fund we could fund immediately by all forgoing our salaries for the next year,” Leary said in response. “We all say we don’t do it for the money, so why don’t we take all of our salaries and put them into the contingency. Not only that, we do have a contingency of about $17 million sitting on the sidelines that we can access very quickly at any time.”
Mayor Leary’s motion did not receive a second.
The commission moved forward, voting to approve the original ordinance as presented, maintaining the current millage rate. Commissioners Sullivan and DeCiccio, as well as commissioners Carolyn Cooper and Todd Weaver voted in support and Mayor Leary voted in opposition. The commissioners will vote on the issue again September 23, finalizing their decision.