property taxes

It all started out innocent enough.

The final City Council budget workshop was winding down. There was discussion on replacing an aged tunnel-boring machine that had seen better days.

Commissioner Doug Bankson started a discussion on replacing infrastructure.

“We need to get back to a healthier place as a whole infrastructure-wise,” he stated. “We’re hearing this from every department. So I think the better we can communicate that so the city can understand that we have to do some of these things.”

Apopka Public Services Director Jay Davoll was pleased to hear this, and for the proposed funding his department received during the workshops.

“I will say some of the things you’ve added to my budget will help with morale,” he said. “Bringing the boring machine up to standards means the staff can go out and do a job in a day and a half instead of a week and a half.”

Mayor Joe Kilsheimer: “The facts are we did not tell people what it took to run this government until 2015. We did not hold budget workshops. That is a fact.”
Mayor Joe Kilsheimer: “The facts are we did not tell people what it took to run this government until 2015. We did not hold budget workshops. That is a fact.”

Commissioner Kyle Becker joked that the boring machine should be called an exciting machine, and Mayor Joe Kilsheimer added that it would be exciting because it actually works.

Bankson continued his thoughts on the need to upgrade infrastructure in Apopka, but he also made mention of the previous leadership.

“I think I can say in past history, the past decade that we lived through that those before us have done their best to get us through a very difficult time, but everyone needs to understand we need to start catching up on these things and we have to make wise decisions. We really need to look at five years to make up for the five years that we were just holding our own.”

Commissioner Diane Velazquez questioned Bankson’s recollection of the reason Apopka is where it is right now.

“I keep hearing about the downturn, but it wasn’t always the downturn,” she said.

That seemed to trigger Kilsheimer into the discussion with a self-described “rant” that started with his remarks two weeks ago, but in some ways had been 20 years in the making.

“I’m going to be blatantly political here,” he said. “I went on this rant a couple weeks ago, and I got slammed for it in The Apopka Chief.”

Kilsheimer was referring to a letter to the editor written by David Rankin to The Apopka Chief, and published in the August 12th edition in which Rankin was critical of Kilsheimer for his remarks that the previous administration was not honest with Apopka citizens.

Kilsheimer not only answered the critique, but added, clarified and hammered home his point over the next several minutes of the workshop.

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Commissioner Doug Bankson: “I’d just like to keep us positive and moving forward. Honestly I think we’re growing and evolving.”

“We did not do budget workshops like we are doing now until last year. We never held budget workshops. My first year as a City Commissioner the first time I saw the budget was at the budget hearing. I asked how we could get the public involved in the budget process, and I was read the riot act by Mayor (John) Land for 10 minutes. We never did this. We never told the public what the needs of the city were. We were not honest with the public.”

“I’d just like to keep us positive and moving forward,” Bankson said. “Honestly I think we’re growing and evolving.”

“Yes, hallelujah,” said Kilsheimer. “That’s what I’ve been saying. I want the city to be on a glide path so we don’t have to buy six garbage trucks all at the same time… so that we don’t run equipment into the ground… and just be honest with people and say this is actually what it takes to run your city folks.”

Kilsheimer pivoted to another theme that seemed to be debated in previous workshops and at least the last two election cycles – tax rates versus quality of life.

“Don’t take such pleasure in this idea that we are the lowest cost, full service city in Central Florida. Because guess what? That doesn’t do anybody any favors. It hasn’t done anyone any favors to tell people ‘we can do this without raising your taxes’ because guess what? You have employees taking a week and a half to do a job that should take a day and a half. And that is just the way things were here, and to be dishonest about that isn’t doing anybody any favors either. To be dishonest about the fact that we never had budget workshops until last year is wrong.”

“I don’t know if we need to go there with these terms,” said Bankson. “But I’m simply saying that… I think when we were a small city; we didn’t do all of these things. And now we are doing things better and in an efficient manner as we move forward. But I don’t want us to get into a place where we are attacking people who can’t defend themselves. Let’s just simply understand that where we are is partially due to the economic times that we went through.”

“We didn’t re-do the economic development code since 1993,” Kilsheimer said. “We have a CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) that’s been in place for 20 years and we’ve never done anything for it.”

“How does this move us forward?” Bankson asked.

“Be honest about it,” Kilsheimer responded.

“I don’t think it’s dishonesty,” said Bankson.

“Doug, the facts are in front of you,” Kilsheimer said to Bankson. “The facts are we did not tell people what it took to run this government until 2015. We did not hold budget workshops. That is a fact.”

“We didn’t tell people one thing when it was the other,” Bankson said in response. “We did not tell people the opposite… so to say we were dishonest is not true.”

“We hid the facts,” Kilsheimer said. “What else are you going to call it? We hid the facts.”

At 5:30PM, and after several minutes of heated discussion between Bankson and Kilsheimer, City Administrator Glenn Irby jumped into the fray to remind everyone of the 7PM conclusion to the workshop.

“Gentlemen, we’re not going to get through this,” he said, moving the conversation back to the budget.

The rest of the workshop was civil and productive and concluded at 6:59 PM with consensus on a modest 0.5 millage increase, but the debates that surfaced are likely to return.

Apopka seems to be experiencing political growing pains as it decides if it is going to be a city that celebrates its past, looks to the future, or tries to do a little of both. It may take a couple more elections to sort things out, but on this day a budget was crafted that the City Council gave unanimous consent to… and now the process moves to public hearings in September where more debate is certain to take place.

38 COMMENTS

  1. As a tax paying citizen of Apopka, I wish I could hook each and everyone of you council members up to a lie detector, since the subject matter at hand, is honesty. Since I can’t do that, and that is not the case, I will give you my analysis. Mayor Kilsheimer, we the citizens of this town, were informed after you took office, at one of the city council meetings, that you and former Mayor John Land had agreed to bury the hatchet, after you won the election, and the former mayor was defeated. This is what we were told, as I was sitting right there, myself at the meeting. You can go back, look it up, I don’t know what council meeting it was, but it is on record. Fast forward to today, and I am reading where you are still attributing blame to everything you see wrong with this city and its operations, to former Mayor John Land. I thought you agreed to bury the hatchet. The hatchet was to be buried, and now former Mayor Land, himself. is buried, is that not enough for you? Must you carry on with this grudge forever? We the citizens see this unresolved grudge of yours with 20/20 vision. You should move on and get beyond the past with the grudge of yours.

  2. To Commissioner Velazquez, who stated she keeps hearing about the downturn, but that it always wasn’t in a downturn, yes that is correct, but what is not being said is that the downturn in the economy goes back much further than what most people acknowledge. We always hear about the recession that started in 2007, the housing market fallout, but in reality, it goes way back to President George W. Bush and when we were drawn into a war based on non-exist “weapons of mass destruction”…….whether you believe it or not, and things have never been the same with the economy since. Times used to be so good, with the economy, but no more! Sorry.

  3. I do acknowledge that Mayor Kilsheimer has put the budget all on-line and has had all the budget workshops so that the public can attend. I did attend them last year, but at some point in time, the public was not allowed to have any comment time to participate in the budget process, like they got to do last year. I know because at the July budget workshop last year I stated my views, or concerns, but this year, it was said the public could not speak at the workshops, plus there has been too many times that the scheduling has been changed at last minute, and I have not been aware that the meeting times have changed for some of the workshops, and or the special quickly city council meetings. It is like the public has been cut out of the process, and our ideas have been ignored. I feel that by the time the two public hearings on the budget will be scheduled to be heard, that it is already cast in stone, and that nothing will be changed or considered.

  4. Mayor Kilsheimer, come on now……….your quote, ” I want the city to be on a glide path where we don’t have to buy 6 garbage trucks all at the same time”…………Mayor, you know that is why you raised the garbage rates one dollar per month, per customer, as to be able to buy a new garbage truck for each year. That is what you said when you raised the garbage rates………..so come on now Mayor Kilsheimer………!!!!

  5. Actually the downturn in our economy went even further than what I stated above, in my posting. It really started before the invasion of Iraq, it started when our country was attacked on 9-11 in 2001. I remember the day well. It didn’t seem real when I watched it on tv. And the bad part is things truly have never recovered to the state of bliss that they were before all the events unfolded afterwards. Sad but true. So for the last 15 years of downturn, yes, it was hard to go forth and develop the CRA area! People didn’t even know if we would survive, much less thrive! Let’s be honest!

  6. I have been listening to some of the audio of the budget workshop……..this part, ” I met a mayor out in San Fran and ………….” then the star- dust in his eyes speech that followed……….. Good grief! Is that all that was accomplished out in San Fran, is that the mayor met a mayor? How much was this taxpayer funded trip to San Fran, not counting all the other multiple Jetson’s globe trotting trips across the country????

  7. The mayor’s quote is, “We were not honest with the city”……….I want you all to really think about what the mayor is saying here.

  8. Here is part of the audio from the budget workshop Aug. 24, 2016……around about 2:16 or so, slide across to find it. Listen for yourself people. Mayor Kilsheimer is describing his first year and term as a city commissioner working with Mayor John Land on the council and he is telling that his first time of seeing the budget was at the budget hearing and that he asked the mayor as to how the public could become involved with the budget. He says that Mayor Land gave him a look that quote (Mayor Kilsheimer’s words) “you would have thought that I had of asked everyone in the room to drop their pants and let me see where the sun don’t shine”. Mayor Kilsheimer, if no one has told you that, that was disrespectful, then I will tell you myself. I don’t expect the mayor of my town to use such vile talk at city hall during meetings. You just approved of serving booze at city hall, and now you think it is okay to use vile talk at city hall meetings too??? I am so glad I did not go, as I would have gotten up out of my seat, and promptly left during your trash talk. Let me tell you something, Mayor Kilsheimer, there is a time and a place for everything, and that was not the time, nor the place, nor would I expect that sort of statement out of any mayor, period. My husband, I am proud to say, has respect for women, and would never have said what you did in front of ladies. I have just heard this for the first time, on the audio, but you stated that you had said it before also. I feel badly for the ladies that were there in attendance. That was bad! You should apologize!!!

  9. Now the audio I say be sure and listen to in the above posting that I indicate is Aug. 24, 2016……the budget workshop meeting was actually held on the 23rd, not the 24th. See, this is confusing to citizens who want to go to these meetings. Now on the agenda, that is Apopka.net, the audio is posted to date Aug. 24th, when as I said the budget meeting was Aug. 23, as the Aug 24th meeting was cancelled, but yet you see an audio icon on the Aug. 24tth. Now do I seem to be going in a perpetual spinning circle here? This is the sort of thing that irks me, all this undependable change of meetings and the postings where even I, who have attended city meetings for ages, can’t keep up with what they are doing.

  10. Also while you are at it, and logging around on the city’s website, Apopka.net, and if you are thinking about coming to some of the city council meetings, and you are new to them, do not go to the council meeting scheduled for today, Aug. 26……..do not be confused, there is not a city council meeting today, Aug 26. But if you were to go to Apopka.net and bring up the golden lake photo and above that photo and log onto public hearings you might think so, as it shows a special city council meeting scheduled for Aug. 26. Yes, that is correct, but look again, it shows 2015. Do not bother to get dressed and prepared to go………..you will be very very late for the city council meeting or very very early for the next one…………..!!!

  11. Be sure to check out today’s Orlando Sentinel, front page A1 at the bottom, “Construction industry donates to school board candidates”…….and about Christine Moore. At the end of the article, I love the part where Dough Head, OMG, I am sorry, it was a typo!!!!!! I was trying to type Doug Head, so sorry, LOL!!!……..anyway, Doug says that the businesses donating to the school board members, quote, “they just want to be remembered as being friendly”……………yeah, this quote coming from Doug Head, former chairman of the bipartisan watchdog group, County Watch….. well,.at least, the article says “former chairman”!!!!………OMG, like there is no other way to be remembered as being “friendly”?????? Now see, read it for yourself, make your own judgement about what is really going on, because if I were to access the situation here on the Apopka Voice, Proud Apopkan, would be extending prayers to me, and calling me bitter. Proud Apopkan, I hope you read the article. Christine????? Are you awake, and reading the article about yourself???? LOL!!!

  12. Christine, I saw that photo of your banner, Go Mustangs and your name and position as the school board member, on the banner. Aren’t you slick Christine???? I have been looking for campaign signs on government property……however, I do not see the wording, “Re-elect” on the banner, so I suppose that is not a campaign banner………. Christine, you da slick one………not long now, just 4 more days!

  13. I am seeing where the Debary Mayor after being ousted out of office, with the city council member votes of 4-0, promptly said that it is a good time to announce his re-election campaign for Debary Mayor……..LOL!!!……… and he is serious, and they are in a tail spin as to when to have the special election. The city says in 45 days after the ousting. Then the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections says, not so fast! She said, “we don’t even know who will be on the ballot as of yet.” Yeah she does, at least, one of them! LOL!!!

  14. I wonder if it is going to be bad weather for Election Day??? Tropical storms and rain??? There is no excitement in the air as far as the elections so far. I haven’t seen the first sign waver anywhere except one or two around the VFW in Apopka.

  15. Christine, you da slick one alright……..I see your photo on page 5A of today’s Apopka Chief Newspaper, standing in the middle with the Apopka High School National Bowling Champs for a photo op. Go Darters!!!! Christine, I almost didn’t recognize you, as you look so different than on the school wall mural….!!!!. That must of been the shortest Orange County School Board meeting ever for you, Christine, as you vanished from the scene, lickidy-split…… I watched the meeting via the live streaming………and you were long gone………!!! You da slick one Christine………!!!!

  16. To: I Am With Her……..so you are with her? Sitting right there with her, huh? LOL! Don’t you worry your pretty little head, one bit, as Mama Mia speaks the truth, Mama Mia has no reason to lie, Mama Mia is not a career politician.

  17. Well I have now heard the explanation from the tall thin man with long silver hair and shorts on that was at the Debary City Council meeting that was called for, the purpose being, to vote out the mayor, for his alleged violations of the city charter. The Debary Mayor had the man removed from the meeting, by the deputies, because the mayor said he heard a threat, and that he heard the man say something about slapping the mayor around, or something of that nature. So he had him escorted out the door. The man, when outside, was asked about what he said, and he said the mayor heard it all wrong, that he didn’t threaten to slap the mayor around…..no…….that he had said, that the mayor’s mama didn’t slap him around enough, meaning that he didn’t learn any respect. LOL! This Debary soap opera must continue, this is entertainment at its best! I love it.

  18. I listened again to the audio of the last budget workshop where the mayor got political, as he called it. He stated that the Apopka Chief slammed him and that somehow the local media blamed him, when he said that quote, “we were not honest with the city”, that they accused him of blaming the last administration. Where is this, in any of the local media? This slamming of the mayor, by the media itself, not the opinion stuff……where did the local media do that? Tell me. I have not seen it. I saw a letter by David Rankin to the editor, published in the Apopka Chief. That is his opinion, and they published his letter to the editor. So where is the local media slamming the mayor, I don’t see it. Just people’s opinions……….not the local media itself????????

  19. I have to hand it to CAO Glenn Irby, he did right to stop that continuous discussion at the last budget workshop that was going nowhere. I never thought that the CAO’s position would include having to be a referee.

  20. I get my Monday morning Orlando Sentinel out of the driveway, I go in and open it, and I see the headlines, “Apopka Battling Blight”, on page 2b the local and state section. My first thoughts are oh no, what plant disease is in our area now? Is it in the citrus or the palms or what now? Then I see that, no, it is a different blight, city stuff. Oh god. I am reading all of the plans to make Apopka great again. Funny, I think I’ve heard that similar theme somewhere before…..LOL! The mayor alternates between stars in his eyes, and dollar signs in his eyes. Wait a minute, he wants to spend $ 600,000 on the parking lot behind Chuck Wagon, buying it, paving it, landscaping it, burying the utilities, but the land at the city center was sold for just $ 150, 000 an acre, So that $ 600,000 for the parking lot is the equivalent of the city giving four acres of the city center money????????

  21. I thought all along that the city was collecting rent money off of the UCF Incubator Building that the city owns, from UCF, but that is not the case. Nowhere near the case!!!!!

  22. Fixing up the downtown buildings would be nice, but some are so weathered, and business owners aren’t exactly getting rich off of the businesses now, so I don’t know how you are planning on getting them to invest in the building fix ups, even with city incentives.

  23. If you go to heavy handed on these businesses downtown, they will close the doors, and then there will be no business downtown.

  24. I knew it, I knew it, when I heard the mayor talking that time about wanting to steal away some economic developer lady he met somewhere at one of those other cities, that oh dear god, he plans to hire one of those!!! Another 6 figure salary position……and yes, the Orlando Sentinel article confirmed the BAD NEWS!!! More big wigs. Too many chiefs not enough Indians……………

  25. How about Commissioner Velazquez……the audio of the budget was hard to clearly understand, but she, according to what I heard there at the end of the audio, wanted to raise our property taxes even more than the mayor wanted! Unbelievable, 100% unbelievable!!! She wanted instead of a half mill, she wanted it to go to 1. 2 mills. Ha!!!! Listen to the audio and see what you all hear, that is what I heard……right near the end of the audio of the last budget workshop. Also, this was after several discussions of setting the millage rate, that she had previously agreed to set it at a half mill, and they had to go ahead and set it at something, because of the August mail outs from the property appraiser’s office to show people what the proposed bills would be. And it was indicated that they could always roll the millage back, but might be hard to increase after supplying the info to the property appraiser office. Who is our representative for the tax payers in this town. Not Commissioner Velazquez for sure!!!!!!!!

  26. Why was the budget workshop audio so unclear the first part? Sounded like it was down in a barrel or something. One part sounded like an army of kids were in the room. I didn’t hardly get to hear any of the fire chief’s talk for that reason near the first part of the audio.

  27. Apopka’s first mayor, Mayor Fudge, bless his heart, the poor guy didn’t get the pleasure of blaming the previous mayor’s administration for his woes in office………….RIP Mayor Fudge. Gone but not forgotten…………

  28. Yes, Commissioner Velazquez at the end of the audio of the budget workshop, which on the agenda audio icon is dated Aug. 24, but was held on Aug. 23, she attempts not once, but twice, TO RAISE our property taxes to 1.2 mills!!!!…….. more than she and the others had previously agreed to, at a half mill increase, which was the info already sent in to the property appraiser’s office! The mayor is only asking for a half mill increase. Commissioner Velazquez is pushy on raising OUR property taxes!!!! People should do their research into why she doesn’t have a problem sitting up there laughing and trying to RAISE OUR PROPERTY TAXES!!!! Who does she represent??? Remember that when she is up for re-election!!!

  29. What was soooo funny when a $ 150 lock for the chief of staff’s door was read on the list of expenses?????? There sure was some strange behavior going on at that last budget workshop, is all I got to say. What in the world?????

  30. What ever happened to starting up Operation Roundup, the program for utility customers having true hardships paying their utility bills with the city? The program that allows utility customers to round up the change of their utility bill to the next dollar amount for the funds to go to hardship cases…..all volunteer, not mandatory, at the discretion of the generosity of other utility customers. In Feb. when the utility rates increased there was a discussion that it could be brought up at budget time, even though there was no need for a budget amount allowed for, it depends on donations from other utility customers. Has it been brought up and started? I don’t think so. Goodwill Store has a similar program and they ask you would you consider rounding up your purchase to the next dollar amount to help those who need help. My guess is the council members don’t shop Goodwill. If a council member were to bring up a discussion about this program and getting it started, I would fall out of my seat, probably. This program was suggested by the consultants that conducted the city’s utility rate study prior to the March 1, 2016 utility rate increases. The consultants indicated other cities have implemented the program.

  31. What was missing in today’s Orlando Sentinel article about ” Apopka Battles Blight” and community fix- ups? …… Answer: . Not one word about the fate of the Highland Manor.

  32. I have listened and listened and listened to the end of the budget workshop audio. It is unclear to me. If I said that Commissioner Velazquez tried to raise our property taxes to 1.2 mills, and if she instead, she was talking the coverage of 1. 2 million in the budget, for the coming year’s new fire personnel. then I apologize to her for that, if that is the case. Maybe that is what she said, instead, it is unclear on the audio to me. However, bottom line, to the council, you all are still RAISING our property taxes! That cannot be ignored! I cannot see the justification for it in the way you all are traveling excessively, throwing money around, and giving away money to non-profits. Budget time is like Christmas morning to the department heads. It seems like whatever they ask for they receive. Are these requests for all these things necessary? There must be more tightening of the budget! It does not sound like bare- bone survival to me. Maybe since the audio recordings are so bad, maybe instead of globe- trotting you all should have invested in some better audio equipment. The city has added all kinds of new fees on utility services, utility rate increases, and have lowered developers impact fees significantly in Feb. on some new home buildings…..this is not fair to the taxpayers of this city!

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