Winter Park total budget grows by $9.5 million
Fee increases, flood control and new library hours are just some of the changes for next year
Sept. 15, 2023
By Beth Kassab
Winter Park City Commissioners gave the first of two required approvals to next year’s budget, which will grow by $9.5 million or nearly 5% over this year to $208 million.
The property tax rate remained the same and the general fund increased by about 10% led by higher tax revenue driven by the growth in property values.
However, a number of fees charged by the city will increase.
- The cost of the city’s garbage collection contract with WastePro is set to go up by 45%, sending fees up by about 20%. The budget estimates homeowners will pay about $5 extra on average each month to account for the higher prices.
- Fees associated with the city’s parks, facilities and programs will go up by 5% to raise an additional $350,000 to cover higher expenses of maintaining the buildings and greenspaces.
- Ambulance transport fees will go up by 10% to raise an additional $100,000 to $150,000. The fee hasn’t been raised in more than five years and is sometimes covered by health insurance or Medicare rather than residents, the proposal noted.
- Water and sewer rates will go up by 7% in line with the index put out by the Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned utilities across Florida.
- Stormwater rates, which help cover the cost of drainage and infrastructure to prevent and reduce flooding, will go up 8% next year following two previous years of increases of 5% each. Owners of the largest homes will pay more while owners of smaller properties could pay less, according to the new rate structure.
Other notable budget changes include:
- An additional $350,000 for the Winter Park Library, which will allow expanded hours and programming, including on Sundays. The money will come from the Community Redevelopment Agency’s budget and is planned to continue on an annual basis.
- At least $1.5 million is set aside, also from the CRA budget, for stormwater improvements such as flood prevention on the city’s west side, which makes up the CRA.
- $200,000 will go toward projects that are part of the Transportation Master Plan.
- $150,000 in the general fund is set aside as a potential matching grant for the Mead Garden Trails project.
- About $150,000 will be devoted from the general fund to create a new construction manager position within Public Works.
- About $113,000 will be devoted to a new community services officer civilian role for Winter Park Police.
- About $1 million over two years to make improvements to Aloma Avenue and S.R. 426 as part of the Fix 426 initiative. Staff noted that more funds may be needed, but that the nearly $700,000 in contingency funds as well as $19 million in the city’s reserve funds could serve as bridge funding.
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