On Monday, city commissioners reviewed a proposed budget for the coming year of $1.77 billion, up nearly 15% from last year.
The spending plan includes an additional 65 staff, 56 of which are assigned to public security agencies; 5% wage increase for urban workers; and is offering a flat-rate property tax for the 10th year in a row.
“As we continue to grow, our budget also continues to grow,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said.
Under the proposed tax rate, approved by the commissioners at the afternoon City Council meeting, property owners will again pay $6.65 for every $1,000 of taxable value. Property taxes are the largest underwriter of city spending, which is projected to be $321.6 million next year, up 14% from a year earlier.
Of that, more than a quarter of the growth comes from new construction, with the rest coming from rising property values, according to Deputy Chief Financial Officer Michelle McCrimmon.
McCrimmon told committee members that city budget officials are confident in the city’s financial position ahead of the new fiscal year, which begins October 1, but are monitoring economic conditions in the coming years for a possible recession.
Although the consumer price index slowed to 3% in June, it is still 12% higher than it was two years ago, McCrimmon said. The city is also being affected by supply chain issues and higher prices, as well as hiring and retaining employees, she said.
Under the proposal, residents would pay 5% more for water remediation fees and 4% more for solid waste, in part to cover higher operating costs, McCrimmon said.
City residents will pay $5.61 per 1,000 gallons of water, or 17 cents more, city spokesman Ashley Papani said.
“On average, a single-family home uses between 5,000 and 10,000 gallons per month, which is the highest increase of $1.70 per month in the city,” she said in an email.
City residents will pay a monthly solid waste collection fee of $21.68, up 83 cents per month.
The budget also includes a transfer to the general fund of $106 million from the Orlando Public Utilities Commission, which is 16% of the money that funds services such as police, fire, parks and solid waste.
Such transfers have been the target of some Tallahassee legislators who have attempted to limit utility transfers from municipal utilities to a much smaller number.
The transfers were kept, although they could return in future sessions.
“This is just a reminder that the payments we receive from OUC are in their operating budget,” McCrimmon said. “This is after all of their operating expenses, all of their maintenance, all of their capital and all of their depreciation has been paid.”
Monday’s workshop was the first look at the budget; city commissioners must approve it at two separate public meetings before it takes effect. These hearings are scheduled for 17:01 on 11 and 25 September.