Ministerial Alliance video shows candidate differences on supermajority amendments

Ministerial Alliance video shows candidate differences on supermajority amendments

Ministerial Alliance video shows candidate differences on supermajority amendments

The interviews by Pastor Troy East showcase how candidates feel about preserving the city’s history and, specifically, what is left of the historically Black west side neighborhood

March 14, 2024

By Beth Kassab

The Winter Park Ministerial Alliance, a group of leaders from 10 of the city’s historically Black churches, announced Friday evening that it is endorsing Sheila DeCiccio for mayor.

The group, which posted to Facebook video interviews with three candidates running for office that highlighted some differences in their policy stances, is not making an endorsement in the Seat 2 commission race. (You can watch the video here.)

Pastor Troy East of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church asked questions of each candidate individually, focusing at times on their philosophies that could continue to reshape the city’s west side in and around Hannibal Square.

The area, which has been the target of a number of redevelopment projects and changed dramatically in recent decades, is historically Black dating back to the founding of the city in 1887.

Census data shows the city’s Black population has decreased in the last 30 years. In 1990, 2,988 of the city’s 22,000 residents — or about 13% — were Black, according to the U.S. Census. By 2000, the number dropped to just over 10%. In 2020, Black residents made up about 7%, or 2,140 of Winter Park’s population of nearly 30,000, the Census shows.

And Black voters make up the smallest share of city voters with about 1,233 of the nearly 22,000 active voters, according to the most recent statistics from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Craig Russell (left) and Jason Johnson speak at a forum for Commission Seat 2 candidates at the Winter Park Library.

East asked the candidates for Seat 2 on the Commission what they would do to protect the history on west side.

“I do think the west side gets short shrift,” said Johnson, an attorney and first-time candidate who lives near Glen Haven Cemetery in the northeast section of the city. “The city of Winter Park would not exist but for two of the original residents of the west side … we’d be a neighborhood in the city of Orlando. I don’t think a lot of people know that. I didn’t know that before I met with residents on the west side.”

He went on to say he wants to try to preserve what is left of the community and cited, as one example, the recent groundbreaking at Unity Corner.

“The west side is a very valuable asset to this community and a rich part of our culture and history …,” he said. “Too often outsiders don’t realize it exists and how valuable it is to us … they think of the biggest homes on the lake and the fact that Carrot Top lives here and we’ve got Park Avenue … But the west side is an important part of this community and I’ll do what it takes to make sure it’s supported and preserved.”

East asked a similar question of Craig Russell, a coach and teacher at Winter Park High School and also a first-time candidate. (Stockton Reeves, a third candidate in the Seat 2 race, was not interviewed because East said he invited the candidates who reached out to him.)

“What I’ve already been doing at the high school is just that,” said Russell, who grew up in the city and lives south of AdventHealth Winter Park. “There’s a word out there … ‘charm.’ I don’t think it does the city justice. This city is rich with history and tradition and it needs to be honored and respected.”

Russell, who would be the first Black city commissioner in more than 100 years if elected on Tuesday, mentioned an African proverb that he said meant “we really need to know where we’ve come from to see where we’re going” and cited as an example that he wants all the students at the high school to learn the Alma Mater.

East also asked the candidates if they agreed with the voters’ decision in 2022 to approve a series of charter amendments that requires a supermajority (at least four votes rather than just three votes on the City Commission) to pass certain land use changes. Those changes include the sale of city property, rezoning parks and public land and rezoning residential land to a non-residential use and rezoning lakefront land from residential to commercial, mixed use or higher density residential.

Mayor Phil Anderson, who is not running for reelection and will leave office in April, championed the amendments. Others in the city campaigned against them because they saw them as potential blocks to new development.

Johnson said he voted for the amendments on the 2022 ballot and continues to support them today. He said the supermajority requirement is one of the best tools to help preserve Winter Park.

“My whole reason for running is preserving the charm of Winter Park,” he said. “I’d be hard pressed to think of a circumstance where I would support changing residential to commercial.”

Such land changes have happened on the west side in recent decades, which has reshaped the neighborhood.

Russell took a different position and said he does not think the residents got it right with the charter amendments when they passed them by wide margins.

“There’s two sides to that story,” he said. “You have the voters who voted on it, obviously, and then residents who didn’t necessarily understand it … It’s something I’d like to revisit and speak to the experts and see how historically it’s benefited the city and also talk to the residents, not just the voters. To me, there’s a large majority of the residents that didn’t get a chance to speak on it.”

Asked about the biggest challenge to the city, Russell said it’s the current divisiveness.

“We’re divided,” he said. “It’s like a high school. It’s very cliquey.”

Johnson has said the biggest issue is future development and shaping how Winter Park looks over the coming decades. Asked why he should be the next commissioner Johnson said he considers his experience with law and understanding the “sneaky” ways some developers do things would be an asset to the city.

“I don’t look like you,” said Johnson, who is white. “I don’t look like one of my opponents … I can tell you I will fight for the west side. My job will be to protect the city’s charm, including the charm that exists on the West side.”

East said what matters to him is whether candidates care about the issues that touch residents.

“I think on the west side, one of the things is do you care?” he said in the video. “It’s not a matter of what what you look like … or your background … or are you white or black? It’s do you really care about the west side? Do you really care about what happens to me and my family? And if the answer is you care, then you’re a good candidate for the job.”

Sheila DeCiccio

Sheila DeCiccio talks with residents at a meet-and-greet event. (Courtesy of DeCiccio’s campaign.)

Russell told East his experience at the school as well as with the nonprofit he started with his wife, Army of Angels, is what qualifies him for the job. He said he is passionate about serving families in crisis as well as his relationship with students.

“I feel I can continue to serve by speaking for them and not to them,” he said.

East also interviewed DeCiccio, the current vice mayor who is running for mayor. Her opponent, Michael Cameron, declined to appear.

If elected on Tuesday, DeCiccio would be the first woman to serve as mayor in Winter Park.

“We have witnessed firsthand your diligent care for residents, focus on
neighborhood charm and sincere concern for infrastructure, which align with our values,” read the alliance’s endorsement letter of DeCiccio.

She highlighted her experience tackling some of the city’s biggest infrastructure needs such as pushing a sense of urgency to fix flooding in west side neighborhoods and elsewhere. She said she supports the supermajority amendments and said residents “overwhelming” spoke in favor of them at the ballot box.

DeCiccio said she wants to address “divisiveness” that is “creeping in” to the city.

“I really want to work to bring everybody together,” she said.


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Commission delays final approval on leaf blower referendum

Commission delays final approval on leaf blower referendum

Commission delays final approval on leaf blower referendum

Issue still not settled as two commissioners asked for more information

March 13, 2024

By Beth Kassab

Winter Park commissioners on Wednesday punted the final approval for a voter referendum on gas leaf blowers until April when a new mayor will likely preside over the hearing.

The decision came after two votes ended in a 2-2 tie, meaning no action could be taken on the matter. Commissioner Todd Weaver was traveling and absent from the meeting.

Commissioners Sheila DeCiccio, who is running for mayor, and Marty Sullivan said they wanted to delay the vote on the referendum, which would ask voters next year if they want a ban on gas powered leaf blowers to stay in place.

Both DeCiccio and Sullivan raised questions about whether Gov. Ron DeSantis could veto language in the recently passed state budget that was inserted by Sen. Jason Brodeur to stop cities from banning gas leaf blowers.

The governor has about two weeks to veto line items once he receives the state budget, which hasn’t yet happened.

There’s no indication a veto is under consideration.

Winter Park commissioners adopted the ban in 2022 as a way to address resident complaints about the loud noise caused by the devices and cut down on harmful emissions and air pollutants. But the board opted to delay enacting the change to give residents and landscape companies time to transition to battery-powered blowers.

In recent months, as the June enactment date was approaching, landscape companies rallied for a repeal of the ordinance, citing burdensome costs of the battery models and other concerns like whether those models would be powerful enough to do the job.

Brodeur heard those complaints and decided to intervene at the state level.

But DeCiccio and Sullivan also questioned whether Brodeur’s preemption applies to Winter Park.

Brodeur told the Voice the language does apply to the city and he purposefully did that as an extra measure to keep the city from enacting the ban until the summer of 2025 at the earliest.

But the way the preemption is worded appears to only prohibit cities and counties from adopting new ordinances or amending current ordinances before the summer of 2025. Winter Park’s city attorney agreed with that interpretation.

If the city’s referendum does not go forward then the ordinance is set to take effect this summer, though the commission delayed issuing any fines for violations until January.

Mayor Phil Anderson and Commissioner Kris Cruzada said they wanted to finalize the referendum and let the voters have a say on the matter. But they lost in a 2-2 tie.

The matter is now set to be debated again at the April 10 City Commission meeting.

Anderson is expected to preside over his final meeting on March 27 and hand over the gavel to a new mayor during the April 10 meeting. Depending on the outcome of next week’s election, a new commissioner for Seat 2 could also be sworn in during that meeting.

But the Seat 2 race is a three-way contest and it’s possible it will head into a run-off that won’t be decided until April 16. If that happens, then there will only be four commissioners to decide the issue on April 10. 


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Republicans lead early voting in Winter Park and across Orange

Republicans lead early voting in Winter Park and across Orange

Republicans lead early voting in Winter Park and across Orange

How will the GOP’s presidential primary impact municipal elections?

March 13, 2024

By Beth Kassab

Republicans are turning out by a big margin in Orange County ahead of next week’s GOP presidential primary, which is also regular spring elections for Winter Park and other local cities such as Eatonville and Maitland.

Of all the county’s early voting sites, the Winter Park Library has seen the highest number of votes cast so far with 1,339, according to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections. Of those, nearly 60% or 774 are from registered Republicans. About 30%, or 395, are from Democrats. Another 160 votes are from people registered without a party affiliation.

Anyone can vote at the early voting sites, which means some of the votes cast at the library could have been from voters who live outside Winter Park. But it’s the best early indicator of how voting stands so far.

In Winter Park there are about 22,000 active registered voters. They are close to evenly split among Republicans and Democrats with Republicans leading slightly with 8,300 versus 7,700 Democrats.

Yet Republicans are driving early voting by nearly 2 to 1.

County wide, Republicans are driving early votes by an even wider margin with more than 23,000 ballots so far compared to 4,000 from Democrats.

Winter Park’s election for mayor and Seat 2 commissioner are technically non-partisan, but party politics often plays a role.

The Republican women’s club in Winter Park, for example, held an event for Seat 2 candidate Stockton Reeves, who has also run as a Republican (and lost) for a Florida House seat.

Past elections, though, have shown Winter Parkers to be discerning when it comes to local politics. Issues like development rules, brick streets, lake quality and parks rarely appear to fall along strict party lines.

In other words, it’s not clear that Donald Trump’s name on the ballot will drive turnout for a single candidate among Republican voters in the municipal races. Democrats decided last year to scrap their presidential primary in Florida in an effort to aid President Joe Biden.

Jason Johnson and Craig Russell, who are also running for Seat 2, appear to have refrained from party rhetoric in their campaigns.

The key differences between Johnson and Russell come in the form of their responses on development questions. For instance, Russell, who is backed by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce has said he is open to revisiting the original Orange Avenue Overlay, which allows for taller buildings and more dense development, and is also open to lessening the requirements for developers to build parking spaces. Johnson has said he would not return to the old zoning rules and does not want to see major changes in the parking code.

Early precinct data from the nine precincts with Winter Park addresses shows 2,685 returned mail ballots and early votes so far, according to the supervisor’s office. A party breakdown for that data isn’t available.

The most votes so far are associated with the precinct at the Winter Park YMCA, which has 538 returned mail votes and 159 early votes. That’s followed by the Winter Park 9th Grade Center, which totals 255 returned mail votes and 107 early votes and Orange Technical College with 212 returned mail votes and 98 early votes.

Early voting runs through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Click here for locations.  

Polls open on Election Day (March 19) at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Voters can find their precincts here.


Donald Trump may be the clear Republican nominee for president, but the question

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Candidates’ final push for votes underway

Candidates’ final push for votes underway

Candidates' final push for votes underway

With just one week until Election Day, voters hear closing arguments from candidates

March 11, 2024

By Beth Kassab

With just seven days until election day, candidates are making a final push for votes this week and the latest financial reports reveal who leads in campaign spending and fundraising.

Jason Johnson and Craig Russell, both running for Seat 2 on the City Commission, released dueling closing argument emails over the weekend.

“The results of this race could come down to just a handful of votes,” read an email to voters from Russell’s campaign manager.

The coach and teacher at Winter Park High School is running “to promote transparency, accountability and representation for all our residents,” the email stated.

Russell is bringing the biggest money to the race with his campaign spending $42,000 so far — more than the other two candidates in his race as well the two candidates in the mayor’s race.

The difference is even more stark when coupled with the money raised by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee known as Winter PAC, which raised $21,000 and spent more than $10,000 on Russell’s behalf, according to the reports filed with the city clerk. Russell is the only candidate endorsed by the chamber.

Contributions to the PAC include $7,500 from developer Allan Keen and his wife and one of his business entities, Development Opportunities Holding. Another $1,000 is from Automotive Services Network, a company controlled by the Holler family, which has also been a big contributor to Russell’s campaign account.

The Hollers, which own car dealerships as well as high-visibility Winter Park real estate along Fairbanks, Orange and Park avenues, contributed $8,000 to Russell from their associated businesses. Another $3,000 came from Holler family attorney Frank Hamner and his businesses.

Hamner told the Voice recently that the contributions from himself and the Holler family are unrelated to the family’s development interests in the city and that they know and support Russell as a community and nonprofit leader who serves underprivileged families.

The City Commission balked in January at a request from city staff to include some changes in the comprehensive plan that could potentially make it easier for the Hollers to develop a lot along the busy intersection of Fairbanks Avenue and Denning Drive, where the city is also trying to obtain more land for turn lanes to ease traffic congestion.

At a candidate forum last week at Westminster Winter Park, a senior living community, Russell appeared to indirectly address the money supporting his campaign.

“I’m nobody’s puppet as some of my opponents might believe,” he said, according to a video posted on YouTube of the event. “I speak for the residents and myself and that alone,” noting that he believed in mindful growth “not like Maitland,” in response to a question from the moderator about how Winter Park should balance neighborhood stability with business growth.

Russell also called out what he sees as “an elitist mindset” among current leaders that he says is “creating stagnation in this city that will inhibit its ability to grow.”

Johnson, who has raised $43,000 and spent $32,000, responded by saying the question sounded like “it was drafted by somebody at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, whose sole goal is to advance the interests of developers.”

“My job here is to preserve our residential communities,” he said. “We don’t need to pave over this city for commercial development.”

In Johnson’s email to voters over the weekend he attempted to further draw a distinction from his opponent, noting that he was not endorsed by the Chamber.

“I personally consider this a badge of honor,” he wrote. “I oppose the excessive high-rise and high-density developments that the Chamber supports. I support attractive and in-scale development that enhances the charm of Winter Park.”

Stockton Reeves, who has raised $69,000 and spent $42,000, emphasized his long family history in Winter Park and said he believes there is already enough affordable and workforce housing in the city. Most of his campaign funds have come in the form of a loan — worth $53,000 — from himself.

If one of the three candidates does not capture more than 50% of the vote on March 19, then the top two vote getters will head into a runoff to be decided on April 16.

In the mayor’s race, Sheila DeCiccio, the current vice mayor, has raised more than $40,000 and spent $30,000 so far. In recent days she has sent out an email thanking supporters and inviting them to an election night party.

DeCiccio also appeared at a forum at Westminster and, as has become a pattern in her race, she was the only candidate to show up.

Michael Cameron, her opponent, has not appeared at any of the public forums or at either private forum held for seniors at the Westminster and Mayflower communities.

He has raised $5,700 and spent nearly all of that on a political consulting firm.

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Big money flows into Winter Park elections

Big money flows into Winter Park elections

Big money flows into Winter Park elections

The three-way race for Seat 2 on the City Commission is also proving a tight financial contest

Feb. 28, 2024

By Beth Kassab

Money is flowing into Winter Park elections, with five candidates for two open seats raising a combined $200,000 so far, and about half of that still on hand to spend before the March 19 election.

The biggest money is pouring into the three-way race for Seat 2 on the City Commission.

Craig Russell, a teacher and coach at Winter Park High School and first-time candidate, raised $49,128, according to the most recent reports filed with the city clerk last week. That figure was enough to overtake the $41,952 raised by Jason Johnson, an attorney and also a first-time candidate, who was the early money leader in the race.

The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce announced earlier this month that it would endorse Russell and his contribution records show a $1,000 check from the chamber’s political action committee as well as donations from other business leaders associated with the chamber.

Notably, at least $8,000 in contributions are from businesses owned by or associated with the Holler family, which owns car dealerships and Winter Park real estate. Individual checks are logged from Holler Honda, Holler Hyundai, Holler Driver’s Mart, Classic Mazda and Audi among others, according to the reports.

Frank Hamner, an attorney for the Hollers, gave two separate checks of $1,000 a piece on Jan. 16 and Feb. 16, both marked as individual contributions. Hamner said in an email message that one of those contributions was “misclassified” on the report and was actually from his law firm rather than a personal check. Each individual and business is limited to $1,000 maximum per cycle.

Strong Persuader Arms, a gun store on Wymore Road owned by Hamner, also contributed $1,000 on Feb. 16.

The combined total donations related to Hamner and the Hollers adds up to $11,000 or more than 20% of Russell’s total contributions.

The Holler family or corporations affiliated with the family own prominent land along Orange, Fairbanks and Park avenues that could one day be redeveloped. The family also was at one time involved in a lawsuit against the city of Winter Park, arguing that commissioners improperly overturned the original Orange Avenue Overlay zoning rules.

Hamner said the Hollers’ support of Russell evolved because they know him as a leader in the community from his work at the high school and his nonprofit Army of Angels.

“The property they own and plans for that property have zero to do with supporting Coach Russell,” he said, noting that Russell is “a great leader” and an “impressive young man.”

Russell told the Voice, “I am no more beholden to developers than I am to the other citizens of Winter Park, including our police, firemen, nurses, young professionals and others who can’t enjoy Winter Park because there’s nowhere for them to live.”

At a candidate forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, he said he was open to the idea of revisiting the original overlay plans.

At that same forum, Johnson said he was not interested in revisiting the OAO.

A mix of well-known names contributed to Johnson, including Full Sail University CEO Ed Haddock and his wife Edye, who each gave $1,000; a $1,000 from former Winter Park Mayor David Strong; $1,000 from former gubernatorial candidate Chris King and $1,000 from former U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson.

Noting that his opponents have surpassed him in fundraising, Johnson said he doesn’t believe the race will be decided on money alone. He said he’s been focusing on talking with as many voters as he can in individual and small group meetings.

He is the only candidate who lists detailed expenses for coffee with voters or stakeholders such as Police Chief Tim Volkerson and former Mayor Terry Hotard and sponsoring a golf tournament for Dommerich Elementary.

“I’m not trying to win the battle of the mailers,” Johnson said. “Getting in front of people and talking to voters is really, in my opinion, where this race is won.”

Mailers appear to be a key strategy for Stockton Reeves, who has sent at least eight to voters homes so far.

Reeves, the executive director for the Center for Public Safety who also ran for a Florida House seat, has brought the most money into his campaign account with more than $69,000 so far. But the bulk of that total — $53,000 — is in the form of loans from himself to his campaign. That means he’s raised just $16,000 from other contributors.

He received $250 from David Albertson, a former citrus grower and real estate investor who was one of the original founders of the Orlando Magic and $250 from Mike Clelland, an attorney and former Democratic member of the Florida House among others.

Reeves declined to answer questions about his mailers or fundraising because, “I will be giving away our strategy for the final few weeks of the campaign.”

With less than three weeks until Election Day on March 19, vote-by-mail has already started and early voting at select locations will begin on March 4 and run through March 17.

Sheila DeCiccio, who is leaving Seat 2 to run for mayor, is the clear money frontrunner in her race. She has picked up nearly $40,000 in contributions and spent more than $25,000 so far, according to reports.

Her contributors include $1,000 from King, the former gubernatorial candidate, Strong, the former mayor, and Alan Keen, an attorney and developer.

Michael Cameron, who is running against DeCiccio and owns a real estate school, has raised $4,971 and has spent nearly all of that on a political consultant called Panoplia Consulting Group started in 2022 by former Republican state house candidate Jeremy Sisson.

Panoplia’s web site describes itself as a firm that “exclusively serves Kingdom-focused candidates who are called to serve their communities in a civic capacity.”

The site calls on candidates to “put on the full armor of God” and says, “We equip our clients with the armor and weapons necessary to do battle in the political arena.”

Cameron, who has not appeared at any public forums and also skipped a private forum at the Mayflower senior living community, did not respond to questions from the Voice.

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Candidates’ final push for votes underway

Seat 2 campaigns intensify over development, public safety claims

Seat 2 campaigns intensify over development, public safety claims

The three-way race appears focused on one of Winter Park’s most asked questions: How will growth look in the future?

Feb. 22, 2024

By Beth Kassab

Election mailers and the accusations that come along with them are flying in Winter Park as three candidates compete for the seat on the City Commission vacated by Sheila DeCiccio, who is running for mayor.

The issue taking the most attention? Growth and development — Winter Park’s perennial dog fight.

At stake is how Orange and Fairbanks avenues as well as U.S. 17-92 look over time as major property owners begin to redevelop their land along with continuing redevelopment across the city’s western neighborhoods.

The person who is elected to the open seat will likely have significant influence over those projects and two of the candidates, Jason Johnson and Craig Russell, are clearly differentiating themselves on the matter. A third candidate, Stockton Reeves, appears to be focusing on taxes and inflation as well as claims about public safety.

A mailer to residents from the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce’s Political Action Committee somewhat crystalizes what is emerging as a defining issue in the race: Whether development codes should be more lenient.

“Did you know?” the mailer asks is large type. “Park Avenue would be prohibited from being built today under current city code.”

The mailer goes on to say that the code “blocks Winter Park’s iconic charm from enhancing other parts of the city.”

The chamber endorsed Russell, a teacher and coach at Winter Park High School, who was the only candidate at the chamber election forum who said he was open to revisiting the original Orange Avenue Overlay rules that allow for taller buildings and higher density. Those rules were overturned by the City Commission in 2020 and the city won a lawsuit filed by major property holders over that decision.

Russell is also the only candidate who said he was open to the chamber’s proposal to do away with the city’s parking codes that require developers provide a certain number of spaces based on the type of development.

“Current codes limit commercial land owners from creating new mixed use venues of a similar size and aesthetic to Park Avenue because of the onerous and outdated parking requirements,” Betsy Gardner, chamber president and CEO, said in a statement. “Small concessions have been made over time for tenants in the Central Business District, but any new development in the city faces parking mandates that leave businesses overparked, creating empty lots, visual blight and a less walkable and more car-centric environment.”

Russell, who did not respond to a request for comment, has said at previous public forums that he would “listen to the experts” for guidance on growth and development issues. One recent mailer from Russell’s own campaign said he wants to “promote smart growth, opposing irresponsible high-density developments.”

Johnson, who opposes tossing out parking codes and emphatically said he did not agree with returning to the original OAO rules, questioned whether Russell would speak for residents or business interests when it comes to new development.

“The comment about ‘listening to the experts’ is a deflection and a way of saying if an expert comes in on behalf of a developer and says something, we should just listen to that rather than what the residents think,” he said.

Johnson, an attorney who has made maintaining Winter Park’s charm a central element of his campaign, sent out an email to voters this week that emphasized, “I am NOT endorsed by the Winter Park Chamber’s PAC, which endorsed a candidate who supports development of large out-of-scale buildings near Park Avenue, and doing away with parking requirements for future commercial developments.”

Reeves, who did not show up at the public candidate forums, has sent at least eight mailers to voters so far — the most of the three candidates.

One of his pieces exclaims “higher prices and inflation aren’t the only things out of control” and says “our property taxes are going up too!” He accused the commission of increasing taxes by 7% in 2022 and nearly 9% in 2023.

His claims are based on the idea that commissioners could have adopted the “rollback rate” or lowered the city’s milage rate to collect the same tax revenue as was collected the prior year.

Instead, commissioners kept the tax rate the same, but collected more taxes because property values have increased. That means each property owner paid a higher assessment based on their increased value.

During budget meetings last year, commissioners noted the need to increase police and fire budgets as inflation and other factors, have driven up wages and equipment costs.  Police and fire make up the largest portion of the city’s general fund expenses followed by parks and public works.

In a separate mailer, Reeves asks “Quick question – How many ambulances does Winter Park have for over 30,000 resident?”

“It is shocking to me that we only have 2 full-time ambulances,” the piece stated.

City officials said a third ambulance is already being staffed part-time and that is set to increase over the coming year.

“Winter Park Fire Department uses the ‘right-sized’ approach, which has proven world-class and credible as WPFD is five-times fire accredited and four-times EMS accredited,” said a statement from the department. “We have already phased in a third rescue/ambulance at Station 64 during select periods.  This will continue with the adoption of the [2025] budget, which already includes the hiring of additional personnel.”

Reeves told the Voice that staffing the third ambulance should happen sooner, “I am not satisfied with this and believe it should be staffed full time.”

But considering Reeves also says he supports adopting a rollback tax rate and wants to collect less revenue for the city, it’s unclear where he would find the money to continue to keep up with the costs of public safety.

He did not respond to a question from the Voice seeking details of his plan.

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