Comp Plan Amendment Fails; City Takes Up FY 2015 Budget

Considers Funding Regional Arts Center

In an abrupt turnaround, the city commission acquiesced to city staff recommendations and citizen sentiment and voted unanimously to quash the proposed amendment to the Winter Park Comp Plan. The proposed change would have increased density of development on four-lane roads and eliminated parking garages from the calculation of allowable building size.

A standing-room-only crowd, most of them carrying the “indoor” version of the now familiar No Density signs, filled the chambers on the evening of August 25. As the proposed amendment came up for discussion, City Planning Director Dori Stone took the podium to articulate staff’s recommendation regarding the amendment. She stated, “Staff is recommending that we not adopt [the amendment] until we go through the visioning process.”

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper made a motion Not to Adopt; Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel seconded, and the motion Not to Adopt passed unanimously.

Commission Gets Down to the Nitty-Gritty Business of the City

After a break, the chambers cleared of yellow signs and the commission got down to the first episode of the city’s yearly reality show – The Budget. August 25 was the first of three commission meetings that will see discussions and, ultimately, finalization of the FY 2015 city budget.

There is good news in this budget – the millage rate is set to remain the same, as it has for the past seven years. It allocates substantial additional funds for tree purchases. And the city reserves are holding steady at about 30 percent.

New Funding Mechanism for Organizational Support

This year’s proposal includes a mechanism for funding organizational support, based on a quarter point revenue contribution from each of the three major funds: General Fund, Electric, and Water & Wastewater. Current estimates put the funding pool at approximately $294,500 – nearly double what has been provided in the past. The current budget proposal, however, allocates $257,000 for organizational support.

To date, the city has received requests from six organizations. The chart below shows the amount each organization requested and the amount the city proposes to allocate.


Organization


Funding Request

 
Proposed Allocation

United Arts

$17,000

$15,000

WP Day Nursery

  24,000

    7,000

Mead Gardens

  85,000

  75,000

WP Historical Association

  70,000

  60,000

WP Playhouse

  30,000

      -0-

Performing Arts Center*

$100k for 10 years

$100k for 10 years

DPAC Scores Big

The Performing Arts Center referred to here is the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center (DPAC) in Orlando. Winter Park proposes to contribute $100,000 a year over the next 10 years, totaling $1 Million. This year’s $100,000 contribution represents approximately 39 percent of the total allocation for organizational support.

According to DPAC Communications Director Scott Bowman, the budget for DPAC now stands at $513 Million. Two-thirds of this money will come from public funds and a third from private donors. This regional facility will boast a 2,700-seat Broadway-type theater, a 1,700-seat acoustical theater and a 300-seat venue for smaller performances.

Winter Park is the only city so far to have offered a pledge of municipal funds to DPAC.

Will WP Kids & Orgs Play 2nd Fiddle to DPAC?

Since 25 percent of Winter Parkers’ taxes go to Orange County, according to Winter Park Communications Director Clarissa Howard, Winter Park’s $100,000-a-year organizational support contribution will not be the only Winter Park dollars DPAC will receive.

It is difficult to imagine what impact Winter Park’s $100,000-dollars-a-year will have on a $513 Million project. It is easier to envision the effect that an additional $100,000 a year over the next 10 years might have if it were spread among local organizations such as the Winter Park Day Nursery or the Winter Park Playhouse.

Future Commissions Hands Are Not Tied

Communications Director Clarissa Howard did confirm in an email to the Voice, “Although commission can plan for a 10-year, $100,000 funding to DPAC, they cannot commit future commissions to this funding amount. Every commission has the ability to approve the levels of funding they feel are needed at that time.”

 

 

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    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

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