On Tuesday morning, Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer delivered his second State of the City Address at the Highland Manor. Friends, family, supporters, City employees, and elected officials turned out for the 30-minute speech, which outlined the City’s accomplishments in 2017, and a roadmap for 2018 and the future.

Two members of the City Council were at the State of the City Address, and shared their thoughts on the speech with The Apopka Voice – Commissioners Doug Bankson, and Diane Velazquez.

And while both commissioners agreed on much of the visioning and accomplishments, there was also contrasting viewpoints.

“What I heard was both a positive and achievable message,” said Velazquez. “It is my opinion that the mayor, the city administration, and city staff are organizing and putting together a plan that falls within our budget without placing cautionary concerns on the city’s budget or reserves. The city administration and staff have done a great job

Commissioner Diane Velazquez: “What I heard was both a positive and achievable message,” said Velazquez. “It is my opinion that the mayor, the city administration, and city staff are organizing and putting together a plan that falls within our budget without placing cautionary concerns on the city’s budget or reserves.”

addressing these projects, sometimes under time constraints, and having to balance and take into consideration the concerns from residents, business people and others involved in city affairs. I am excited about the opening of the new Florida Hospital. With the upcoming development of the City Center Project and projected presentation of the first phase of the downtown area, the hotel will lead the approaching inception of the project. This economic growth will give many of our residents the opportunity to live, work and have entertainment in the community. Our community is organically growing and becoming a destination for families and new businesses. Additionally, the Wekiva Parkway or 429, the Kelly Park Interchange, and the interest of business investors seeking to gain entrance into Apopka’s growth is all a major plus for our city. My responsibility as your commissioner is to ensure that the best interest is for the City of Apopka and its residents. It is very important to proceed with Integrity, diligence and with consideration to “all” residents calling Apopka their home.”

Bankson too was excited about certain elements of the Address but differed with Kilsheimer on his approach to spending, taxes, and reserves.

 “The mayor’s state of the city address was an exciting time to look at the steps forward we are making as a city.  The opening of our new Apopka Hospital is paramount in our minds as the newest and tallest addition to the Apopka skyline. This is a mutual effort more than ten years in the making, and a monument to both our past and our future.
We are blessed to be in position at the right time in history to ride the wave of national and local economic recovery. Stewarding our growth is the most important fiscal responsibility we have as elected officials, and creating a sustainable trajectory has been my mantra.
Along with the continuing development of the northwestern beltway, we are beginning to see the effects of recovery which will continue to bring in the amenities that help position us further as an attractive environment for expansion. All the while, it is a vigil to keep the family-friendly atmosphere that sets us apart as the best place to live and raise our families.
While the speech was an opportunity to highlight the best things we have accomplished, the mayor’s visible nod in my direction when mentioning our financial discussions at the city council meetings (referring to our need for a reserve policy most notably) gives me a friendly license to nod back.
As was mentioned, we began the year at 20% of reserves, but in actuality, the most recent budget passed required us to further decrease them to 18%, and that is before feeling the full effects of our storm reparations. And though this partially funds our fire department expansion, we will still have to fully staff our stations and find a way to build fire station six which is generously given a temporary station at Florida Hospitals former construction center.
The point for me is not to rain on anyone’s parade, but rather to say that many of the decisions made have still to be paid for and won’t be felt until well into the next year, which generates my concerns going forward.

We reduced reserves, borrowed, and yes, raised taxes this year to balance the budget, all the while putting off many needed expenditures. While we have seen over 500 certificates of occupancy as was stated, residential tax revenue on lower-priced homes is less than the cost of services provided, therefore we will have to make up the difference in the next and coming years.

Commissioner Doug Bankson: “We reduced reserves, borrowed, and yes, raised taxes this year to balance the budget, all the while putting off many needed expenditures. While we have seen over 500 certificates of occupancy as was stated, residential tax revenue on lower-priced homes is less than the cost of services provided, therefore we will have to make up the difference in the next and coming years.”
Our focus must be on economic development especially in the commercial market. This can help growth income to hopefully overtake spending before we stagnate, forcing us to raise taxes to make up the difference.
I’m a big fan of analogies as they help us to grasp both scenarios and concepts in an understandable manner, so let me put it into perspective. NASCAR fans may recall an August 2nd, 2015 headline that read, “Kenseth Wins at Pocono as Kyle Busch Runs Dry”. As with cash reserves, fuel management is just as important as other aspects of the race. Skipping a pit stop may for the time being put you ahead, however, as in the above-mentioned story, Busch ran out of fuel halfway through the last lap. As he slowed to a stop, it opened the door for Kenseth to take the checkered flag.
While this principle is true, it is possible to be too conservative as well, thus slowing down progress. This has been the opposite contention, and finding the right balance is the best approach. This is why I will continue to advocate for a workshop to discuss our reserves and establish a healthy forward-thinking policy so we can all win.”
Editor’s Note: Tomorrow the candidates running for Seat #1 and Seat #2 will share their thoughts on the State of the City Address.


  1. There have been so many differing ideas discussed since the visioning process that the residents are confused. Take the Highland Manor home for example. It was going to be saved, it was going to be moved, it was going to be torn down. It was going to go to Dream Lake, then Station St. and even out on the lobe into the pond at Martin’s Pond there at the city center……

  2. As one resident pointed out, there was talk of a cross over or a gateway from the city center to the other side. Then it was said that the city would come back at a later time, and decide then what to do with the Highland Manor. Then next, we were told the property the house sits on was sold, but I see it has not been closed on yet. Then later we found out that the house will now be in Tauras, the developer’s possession. There was talk of putting a splash pad down near Station St. and a farmer’s market. Now the splash pad has been changed to go into the KLNP, and remove the existing tennis courts. Currently, they now are discussing putting a micro-brewery near Station St. It is getting a little old, all of these constant changes, and no one seems to know what the actual plans are going to be. The residents have heard so many different plans that they have given up. What they have seen is more traffic congestion, and more sirens day and night going to wrecks, and they are sick of it all, even though they don’t know what to do about it because they can’t!

  3. When the residents first heard about a city center they thought of it as a place they could gather and listen to music and entertainment, dine, and hob knob, and bring their family members along for special occasions. They didn’t count on a hotel. Or the talk of a grocery store, or medical offices like plastic surgery centers….not what most residents had in mind, and certainly not senior citizens housing either.

  4. They said that the scum on top the pond that was unsightly would have a certain kind of fish stocked in there, to keep the scum ate up. We would have a fountain in the middle of the pond and a boardwalk built all the way around the pond. Then that plan was changed too. No one can keep up with these constant changes, and just idle talk and with nothing tangible to see for all this constant talk and blueprints. A lot of residents think the city center is going to be more about the developer’s profit than about pleasing the local residents and what they desire. Many see the city center plans as just another commercial development no different than in any other city, and not what they expected.

  5. The problem with this town, is the problem that it has had all along, and that is the steady stream of high traffic, right through the main drag of town. The mayor can’t help that, no one seems to be to do anything about it. Other cities around that are so admired, do not have this major problem, and they can have a walkable, window- shopping, town. It is really not the mayor’s fault. The by- pass was supposed to help, but it didn’t, and now the traffic is getting even worse and worse with more people moving here, and more and more homes being built. What is the answer? I don’t have a clue, to tell you the truth….but it is getting really dangerous out on the roads around this city, I know that!

  6. They sure need some better signs for the new hospital, I know that. Tiny little capital letter H signs in blue, hanging above the other signs, isn’t cutting it. Some people don’t know that means hospital. Tiny little H signs is all that is there, along the 429 as you are driving near the new hospital.

  7. Not very good directional signs, if you are in an emergency situation, and taking someone to the hospital, and not familiar with where the new hospital is, and it is a lot harder to find than the old hospital.

  8. The “road diet” part was another of his head scratchers, at least for me. Road diet, to me, is driving through the fast food windows, ordering, and heading down the road and digging in and eating out of the paper bags on the way to somewhere…..Viva Taco Bell.

  9. The surprise part of the mayor’s speech was his obvious omission. No mention during his speech, about how he and his allies on the city commission, plan to turn this city into a alcohol- lovers paradise….with as many beer, wine, spirit bars and establishments, all over the entire city, as many as the market will bare, and right next to churches, daycares, parks, government buildings, and much closer to schools. If you do not agree with the mayor and his fellow commissioner allies on the city council, that voted for, and in favor of the first reading at the last council meeting, approving these changes to the alcohol ordinance, then please come, protest, and speak to them in person, at the next city council meeting, Dec. 20th, at 7pm. and tell them if you don’t agree, and that you feel it is not safe, or good for our city, and that it is not an improvement to our citizen’s quality of life. It is very hard to stand up to them when they hold all the power….I ask for your help, as it is a highly emotional subject to me, even though I joke around a lot on this website, I am very serious…. I feel it is a step in the wrong direction for this city’s welfare and safety of our residents and especially children. Maybe Mayor Kilsheimer, Commissioner Velazquez, and Commissioner Becker will listen better to someone other than me. I hope someone will show up and speak on the record, against these alcohol amendments, as they will have people there next time, to tout the wonders of the alcohol drinking establishments and boozy businesses all over town, that they say will economically develop our city, and lead to a quality of life improvement for Apopkans. NO!

  10. I am heartbroken today as I picked up the Sentinel and was reading the deaths, and I saw a name I recognized, and I thought, no, it can’t be, it can’t be the Dennis I know, the Dennis I went to school with, and the Dennis I graduated with. I then looked at the Loomis Funeral Home obits, and yes, it was Dennis, the Dennis I knew for so long. I had not seen him lately since he wasn’t currently working at Publix. My eyes formed tears when I realized it was my classmate, I went to high school with….he always would prank me whenever I went into Publix, and trick me, kid with me, hug me, and then always he would start talking on and on about our high school reunions, and when the next one would be coming up, and asking me if I was going to go. Actually, I have never attended one of my high school reunions, but he would pester me, anyway. I will miss Dennis, he was one of a kind. Sometimes I would go into Publix, and he would be really laughing and pranking me, and other times he would be really down, serious, and sad. One time over at the high school at citizen’s night classes, we ended up taking the same beginners computer class years and years ago, and between our clowning and cutting up, I think we really disturbed the man teaching the classes! RIP Dennis, I am really heartbroken, and although I knew about his seizures, I didn’t know the cause of them. So sad, prayers for his family, he was a really special and good guy. Gone, but not forgotten.

  11. With all due respect, within the discussion above, where it is mentioned that the residential tax revenue collected on lower-priced homes is less than the costs of services provided, and that next year and the coming years, the council will have to make up the differences…..Look, most of the lower-income homes around here, in this city, have been around here for years and years, and most of the owners are on social security and fixed incomes. They have been paying residential tax revenues a very long time. There are very few low-priced homes being built now days! The developers want every nickel they can get for their own profits! And certainly people can argue all day about the definition of what a low-priced home actually is….what is low-priced for one person, is not low-priced for another. And a very common complaint by political leaders, is that we need more affordable housing, that is not getting built, because of developers wanting to get as much bang for their buck, as they can squeeze, out of a parcel of land. Instead of making residents in lower- priced homes feel guilty, and bringing this point up, possibly looking at some of the multitude of other reasons the city budget is getting out-of-control, and increasing so much, too quickly, that the city council is having to rob Peter to pay Paul….. I know I could write a book on some of the areas that money is being wasted, and given away, that is totally unnecessary! Not to mention some people who live in expensive homes, and don’t have to pay property taxes for whatever reasons that are obviously legal, but I won’t go there! Don’t bring the lower-priced home subject up, to make those people feel bad, look elsewhere for the waste and giving away of the city tax payer monies!!!!

  12. Whether one lives in a shack, or in a mansion, in this city, the property tax millage rate is the same for all. It is just that the mansion, for example, has a higher value, but the lower-incomes homes are just as subjected to property values going up as the more costly homes like the mansion, for example……..

  13. I think one commissioner has a conflict with church and state. So glad Mayor Joe Kilsheimer is leading our city into the future. Apopka is no longer the armpit of Orlando thank you Mr. Mayor!

  14. Barbara, for the record, Apopka has NEVER EVER been a part of Orlando, not back then, under other mayor’s leaderships, and not now, under this mayor’s leadership, and therefore, it is just not true, when you state…..”Apopka is no longer the armpit of Orlando”….wow, Barbara.

  15. Barbara, you think that an Apopka commissioner has a conflict with church and state, in your opinion??? I think there are 3 members, on the Apopka City Council, who have an ongoing conflict with church and state, in my opinion, for voting to allow expanded alcohol drinking right next door to churches, where people are worshiping, and just listen to the city attorney on the last city council audio of Dec. 6, 2017 explaining micro-breweries, just one example of the alcohol businesses that will be allowed, if voted in by the majority sitting on the Apopka City Council…..here is what the city attorney mentioned about the micro-breweries that he knew of…some have outside tables with music, wristbands sold for ten to fifteen bucks a piece, where the patrons drink 6, 7, or 8 beers, socialize, and then are sent on their way……sorry, this is NOT compatible with being next to churches, daycares, government buildings, and closer to schools, like they want to vote in, and approve at the next Dec. 20th, 2017 council meeting at 7pm, the second reading, and possible approval that will open the door for these activities….IMO. Is that a state and church issue? I think so! IMO… Also the banning of churches from the new city center is highly questionable also….so when you say one commissioner has an issue with church and state, as you claim, I think it goes back to other council members also….IMO

  16. I am aware that these alcohol establishments, regardless of the type of alcohol business, do have a right to operate, however it is the Apopka City Council’s job to protect the safety and welfare of our residents. These alcohol establishments, can go elsewhere within the city’s corporate borders…do not be deceived, there is no cause to shove them next door to the churches….IMO

  17. Apopka has a great family- friendly reputation, not the seedy, sleazy, low- life elements, that are present in some areas of Orlando. We are not the “armpit” of Orlando, no we are not, but just as the sun comes up and the sun sets daily, and the tides change daily, our city can change for the worst, and head in the wrong direction, and become the “armpit”…..those sitting on the council voting for these alcohol changes, don’t need to be opening this “can of worms”…. they need to be thankful that we are not like parts of Orlando and don’t want to be!!!

  18. Let’s see….so the residential tax revenues generated from the lower- priced homes, do not cover the costs of services provided? And they will have to be made up for? Hmmm….let me think about that statement. Okay, the water, re-use water, if you happen to have it, and the sewer rates are the same in the city limits, as to the higher- priced homes versus lower- priced homes…. the garbage rates and trash pickup rates are the same in the city limits for lower and higher priced homes…..the property tax millage rate is the same rate based on the home’s value…..ambulance service rates are the same for lower and higher priced homes, within the city limits, with the exception of those who need to be transported additional miles to the hospital, might pay more, based on extra miles, not sure, but what I believe to be true….. the connection fees to get on and hook up to the utility system of city water service, and city sewer system line connections are the same , whether it is a new home just built, or an existing home possibly being annexed into the city, no matter if the home is expensive and upscale, or a modest lower- priced home….the only other services I can think of is police and fire, and wealthy and modest homes, both have equal access to police and fire service calls and receive city services of protection….so what is going on really here????? Makes me wonder! Read between the lines………

  19. I found it interesting in the Mayor’s State of the City Address that there was absolutely no mention at all of the 2 largest residential communities in our city, Errol Estate and Rock Springs Ridge, and the continuing issues of both with a closed down 27 hole golf course. The tax base from both these communities has a tremendous effect on the budget of our city and how those tax dollars would be utilized or not utilized in moving forward. Both communities being privately owned, would depend upon the city government to cooperate fully and at a quicker than normal pace to get approval on any plans in the works. The Errol estate plan is in the hands of the current administration at this time, but information regarding Rock Springs Ridge is apparently being held close to the vest at this time. Transparency on these communities would be nice!!

  20. Michael Heaton….I am glad you brought that subject up. Another obvious omission of the mayor’s state of the city address. The new Errol golf course, water park, and additional greatly expanded amenities is a very big plan that is to be monumental in this city, but NO mention in the state of the city address by the mayor?…..that is odd, to say the least!

  21. Yes, you are right, Micheal Heaton…. I had forgotten how the golf course issues were very much in the news at the time of the last city election, so I am glad you brought that up. Not just Errol Estate but also Rock Springs Ridge……

  22. During the last city election time, in fact, a very quick little meeting was scheduled out there at a restaurant at Rock Springs Ridge, and all the Apopka City Council members re-running for election, and the new candidates running were invited, on extremely short notice, to come out there with the subject being allegedly to support, promise to support, or pledge to support RSR golf course, if you were trying to be re-elected, were an already sitting member of the council, or elected for the first time, along with whoever happened to be there at the restaurant, as patrons there to dine, to listen in and hob nob…..

  23. The subject to be discussed was the maintenance of the golf course issues, and the huge upkeep costs and the status of the golf course’s future……..

  24. All the candidates and existing commissioners did not attend. This meeting was not scheduled by the city….No, the meeting was conjured up by a “concerned citizen” who has not lived here in Apopka very long. The “concerned citizen” didn’t live in the golf course community of Rock Spring Ridge, herself, but instead in another non-golf course subdivision, but she managed to call this meeting together, with a extremely quick notice, and got some candidates to attend…LOL

  25. The Apopka Voice showed photos and articles reporting on that meeting out there at RSR, that I am referring to, that was held out there at that time……

  26. There has been a lot of news about closed down and shuttered golf courses in other Central Florida cities, and even in the news, at the various county commission meetings too, as a subject that they are forced to have debate about, and deal with, and how they have to go about handling the fallout of the shuttered courses, with the golf course residents irked, and demanding something be done. Articles in the Orlando Sentinel are very frequent…….many other cities and counties, are considering buying the vacated unsightly and grown-up golf course properties as parks, or with the cities and counties purchasing them with them the government entities being the new owner/operators of the golf courses, at the high- cost expense of all of their tax- payers. Others, like the developers, want to see homes built there, which usually the golf course residents are against, because they want their golf courses back, because that is why they bought and moved to a golf- course community, in the first place…..these issues aren’t over in Apopka either, they are just being kept quiet, about it for now, during the election. Silence is golden….shhhh…..quiet now…….shhhh.

    • These 2 communities are very interested in what is going on with the golf course properties, as their property values may possibly be affected based on decisions made. I have occasion to be at many homes in the Apopka area and I am continually asked a lot of times what I have heard about the properties. Some residents actually make decisions on when and where to buy homes depending upon rising or lowering property values at any time, so being left in the dark about these properties is concerning to home owners, especially at Rock Springs Ridge where there seems to be no information. At least Errol Estate is in the hands of the city right now, so we’ll see how quickly that moves along. Just trying to see through some of the “transparency” – lol.

  27. I got up very early this morning and the transformer at the end of our street was spewing sparks and all over, and looked like a Chinese New Year fireworks show! There were flashes of white hot electrical sparks flying all over Martin Street and in residents’ yards. I got on my home phone and called 911, but it affected our phone lines, as there was popping over the phone lines, and I didn’t hear anyone, so I called it in on my cell phone instead. The police got here very fast, and he was sent immediately, because the dispatchers knew that I had called 911 from our home phone, but they couldn’t hear me, so the police was sent here FAST, not knowing what was the problem. I told the dispatchers on the cell phone, that I had previously called on the home phone. The police blocked the street, and kept check on things, the fire truck came very quickly, and right before the power company was called out by the fire department….it went BOOM really loud and sounded like an explosion! Then our land line telephone and internet service was down, but our power was still on…..strange how those lines work. Service was back on lightning fast! I commend them all, the 911 dispatchers, the police, the fire department, and the power company!

  28. I think as far as Errol’s new big development improvement plan, that sounds so nice, it is not just the city, but it also has to be okayed through the state, I believe, is what I heard, if I am correct. A redesigned new golf course designed by some golf pros, I think, a water park, new housing, new entrances and exits on Vick Road, a new name, and all kinds of things, I don’t even know about. Hotel, I think, new clubhouse maybe? Don’t hold me to it, as I am not sure, just discussing things. It sounds impressive!

    • Actually, the state has already put their stamp of approval on the project and it has been back in the hands of the City of Apopka for awhile now. In addition to the above, an assisted living facility will be built also, and supposedly that will be the first part of the project to happen. It’s Mayor Joe’s move next!


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