The final reading of the fiscal year 2024 budget, held during the Sept. 27 city meeting, ended with unanimous approval from Winter Park City Commission. The current millage rate of 4.0923, accepted during the first reading on Sept. 13, was passed along with the following changes to the CRA and General Fund budgets:
- $350,000 for programming and Sunday hours at Winter Park Library
- $1.5 million for stormwater improvements within CRA
- Defer $200,000 in capital connectivity improvements for projects under the Transportation Master Plan
- Reprioritize 3.5 million in future Capital Improvement Project funding for additional stormwater improvements
- $150,000 in matching funds for bike trail grant
- $151,000 for a Public Works construction manager position
- $113,000 for community service officer position, including vehicle and equipment, starting April 2024
- $1.8 million over two years for Aloma Avenue traffic improvements
The 2024 General Fund budget includes property tax revenue of $33.4 million, marking an increase of more than $3.2 million from fiscal year 2023. Total General Fund revenues of $77.7 million are up $7.8 million from FY 2023. Additional revenue notes include:
- Stormwater Utility Fund – Total revenues and expenditures of $3.7 million, up from $3.3 million in FY 2023
- CRA Fund – Total revenues and expenditures of $8.7 million, up from $7.4 million in FY 2023
- Water and Sewar Fund – Total revenues and expenditures of $42.1 million, up from $37.6 million in FY 2023
- Electric Utility Fund – Total revenues and expenditures of $49.4 million, down from $54.2 million in FY 2023 due to a decrease in bulk power costs
Total funding for projects in the Capital Improvement Plan came to nearly $5.6 million with the most funding ($1.3 million) going toward traffic signal upgrades and pedestrian safety measures at intersections. Funding for the resurfacing of approximately nine miles of city streets came in second at $1,020,251. Pavement condition assessments will be made to identify the streets most in need of resurfacing during the fiscal year.
Electric Vehicle Policy
Commissioners also discussed the wording of an amendment to Conservation Chapter policy 5-1.1.9 of the city’s Comprehensive Plan, intended to promote the city’s purchase of electric vehicles.
Adopted in 2017, the Comprehensive Plan is meant to ensure that city growth management meets all state and federal regulations, adheres to the city’s vision, and allows for amendments every seven years. Winter Park residents were previously notified, by mail, of four amendment hearings scheduled between early September and late October.
The amendment in question seemed to mandate capital purchases of EVs for city staff use by stating that the city “shall purchase vehicles powered by alternative fuels or engine design, such as hybrid or electric vehicles.” Citing the need to refrain from posting a mandate in consideration of future city budgets, Mayor Phil Anderson was in favor of changing the wording to state that city staff will “prioritize EV purchases based on budget and vehicle performance requirements.”
“There’s no doubt that the city should prioritize the purchase of electric vehicles,” he said. “I think in terms of creating a policy mandate, we need to have some flexibility.”
Commissioner Marty Sullivan disagreed, stating that the ability to meet budget and performance requirements have already been proven by existing EV performance records. “I believe it is in the city’s interest, for the next seven years of this Comp. Plan, that we say that we will purchase EVs,” Sullivan said; later adding that Anderson’s proposed wording provides “a likely out from having to buy EVs.”
Commissioner Kris Cruzada spoke in favor of accepting Anderson’s wording and cited possible technology issues that may require consultation with the city’s IT department prior to EV purchases. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions that I would want answered before we go down that path, so that our staff is not put at risk,” he said.
Despite Sullivan’s offer to soften his wording, Anderson’s amendment was passed by a 4-1 vote. The next Comprehensive Plan discussion is scheduled for the Oct. 3 Planning & Zoning Board meeting with the final public hearing scheduled for the Oct. 25 City Commission meeting.
Inspired by the book Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World and the Sept. 22 Winter Park Outlook event with author, Henry Grabar, Planning & Zoning Director Jeff Briggs suggested scheduling a City Commission workshop to discuss parking in the downtown area.
The city’s Transportation Master Plan incorporates technology for real-time parking management; however, the workshop would cover current ordinances and practices, and the possibility of short-term improvements. Commissioners also pointed out the need for bike paths and enhanced public transportation as alternatives for commuters.
Commission agreed to add the workshop to the city meeting schedule, the next City Commission meeting is on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The monthly meeting schedule is posted on the City of Winter Park website.