Workshop meetings underway with bare bones approach being implemented

The Apopka City Council held the first of six budget meetings yesterday and began the process of crafting a proposal into a financial plan for the City of Apopka. The Council learned that the fiscal 2018 budget has increased 16%, but the proposed millage rate will remain the same as 2017. Apopka Finance Director Pam Barclay, City Administrator Glenn Irby and Mayor Joe Kilsheimer all described it as an austere, bare-bones, no-frills, budget.

“What was proposed in the General Fund was $60-million, and we trimmed that down (to approximately $44.5 million), Barclay said. “We presented a balanced budget meaning the revenues match the expenditures.”

Kilsheimer described it as the best that could be done without increasing revenues or utilizing the general funds.

“Everything that is being requested by department heads is needed,” he said. “However, if we are not going to raise taxes, and we’re not going into reserves, there’s just no money for some of the things our department heads have asked for. This is an austere budget.”

Irby found the process in many ways unprecedented and warned that budget cuts could not continue forever.

“I’ve been putting budgets together like this for over 20 years, and usually there is fat… and you learn over the years where departments tend to store it and you go and extract it,” he said. “We found that this year. It’s no different. But what I noticed this year that I’ve never seen before is these budgets weren’t really extravagant. We have things that are wearing out. We have police cars with over 100,000 miles on them. Pursuit vehicles of that type are dangerous. They need to be retired. This is the first time in my career that I had to face the directors and tell them ‘I can’t give you any of this’. And I do understand why and that’s what I told them. We have marching orders from last year. And just to get a half-mil rate increase was difficult. So what you have is a no-frills, bare bones budget. There is no padding – none. And I’ve said this to Council before – this is not sustainable. Something has to give. And what that is I don’t know.”

The proposed FY 2018 budget is $121,050,345 for all funds, which is an increase of $16,966,829 or 16% over the 2017 budget. However, the proposed General Fund Budget would decrease approximately $4.7 million ($44,506,298) or 9.7% compared to last year’s budget. No reserves and no additional bank notes were used to balance this year’s General Fund budget. In order to do so, all requests for capital expenditures, with the exception of costs to complete Fire Station No. 5, and all requests for additional employees were eliminated.

Budget Highlights

Significant factors included in the proposed budget include:

  •   Prior Year’s Millage rate of $3.7876 per $1,000 of assessed value; no change from the previous year.
  •   Tax base increased by $295+ million, which provided an additional $1,061,939 in ad valorem tax revenue.
  •   No reserves were used to balance the General Fund budget.
  •   No bank notes were used to balance the General Fund budget.
  •   No Capital costs were included in the General Fund budget, with the exception of the final cost of construction of the new Fire Station #5 ($742,830) (almost $14 million was requested).
  •   No additional employees were included in the General Fund Budget (51 positions were requested).
  •   Additional Division (Utility Plant Maintenance) was created in the Public Utility Enterprise Fund.
  •   20 new positions added to the Water and Wastewater Utility Fund workforce.
  •   Health Insurance Costs increased 3.0%.
  •   Property and Casualty insurance increased 5%.

Barclay and Irby ended their signed letter to the City Council (within the 763-page budget proposal document) with this conclusion:

 

 “Last year we discussed the need to remain focused in order to achieve future success. We focused on what we could afford to do to maintain our quality of life during the most troubling economic situation in decades. During the year we invested time and resources into expanding our economic development efforts, planning for the future and keeping our community safe. Although economic indicators continue to point toward recovery, history shows it could be a slow recovery. This year we should continue to focus on economic development, sustainability and keeping our community safe as these proactive measures will position us to recover faster and ensure our future success.

We believe this budget is a prudent and responsible financial plan that funds the top priorities of the City Council and provides funding to maintain our services and infrastructure. We hope you find this information useful in developing an understanding of the financial plan of the City of Apopka. As we strive to better serve our residents, we look forward to working with the City Council and the public to continue to build a strong financial base and to continue to make Apopka one of the finest communities in which to live, work and play.”

The City Council meets again tomorrow from 3-6 PM in its second workshop at Apopka City Hall.

Note – This is the first in a series of articles outlining the budget process, which includes five more workshops and City Council discussions and votes. 

4 COMMENTS

  1. I hope someone with the City of Apopka sees this….someone has vandalized the J. Barnes Field sign on the western part of Grossenbacher St. and Wells in front of the baseball fields. I don’t know if the city handles that or the school people, but if the mayor sees this post maybe he will contact Christine Moore about it if the school handles that instead of the city. Someone sprayed red paint across the face of the sign, and it looks like to me, “Abortion is Murder”……doesn’t speak well of our city or school to people coming to the games……..

  2. I hope the tax base millage rate stays the same as reported in the Apopka Chief. The taxes will go up anyway. I think they will probably stay the same as it is election time…..LOL……I see the wrecking ball has been brought in, as I predicted, before the last city elections, only thing is that Miley wasn’t there riding the wrecking ball…..LOL…..that wrecking ball sure had to wham the side of that concrete stands mighty hard to bust it up (Edwards Field). Too bad things aren’t built to last now days like that was. I had lots of great memories there from going to the fireworks shows of the past and the ball games and that was my resting place to stop and go to the top part as I walked up town daily…….oh well. Maybe they will display some of the concrete chunks in a memorial on the front lawn of city hall…..yeah, that will do it, and then the city hall entire front lawn will look like a junkyard with the other bent metal memorial……beauty is in the eye of the beholders and in the hearts of our memories. Seriously, there needs to be more historical preservation of our Apopka history in this town.

  3. I think the mayor ought to allow the public to speak at the budget workshops like he used to, when they discussed the budget. I bragged about the mayor then and told him that I appreciated his allowing the public to speak and be a part of the discussions about the budget and items to be purchased, and that he was doing a good job. The mayor needs to allow the public to speak again at the workshops. Why not? When it comes to the city council meetings, it seems the budget is cast in stone, and whatever the public says isn’t considered and just a formality before their votes.

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