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.”
“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.
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.