By County Commissioner Bryan Nelson
The Community, Environmental, and Development Services Department is one of the largest departments in Orange County. It encompasses nine separate divisions which include: Building Safety, Code Enforcement, Parks and Recreation, Fiscal and Operational Support, Housing and Community Development, Zoning, Planning, Transportation Planning, and Environmental Protection. Each of these divisions not only provides essential services to county residents, but they are also responsible for enforcing county codes, regulating future infrastructure and housing developments, and conserving our environment among others.
Three divisions which are at the forefront of the department are Planning, Zoning, and Environmental Protection. The Planning Division is responsible for managing the use of land within the county. The division concerns itself with the design and layout of Orange County’s infrastructures, and housing and business developments. The Orange County Comprehensive Plan is also managed by the planning division. The plan adopted was in 2009 and lays out the community vision for guiding growth in the county until the year 2030. It also includes a future land use plan which limits what can and cannot be done with Orange County land. Applications to amend this plan are accepted twice a year.
A division that works closely with the Planning division is the Zoning division. In many ways these two work hand in hand. The Zoning division oversees permitting for any new developments, reviews commercial plans, and performs project review and research. Zoning also makes sure that landscaping requirements are met throughout the county and they oversee the establishment of new street addresses. The Environmental Protection Division is responsible for overseeing the preservation and conservation of the county’s environmentally sensitive lands, lakes, and rivers. In addition they oversee air quality, environmental code amendments, and solid and hazardous waste management among many others.
The Community, Environmental, and Development Services Department receive funding from a number of sources. For the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year funding is projected to be $185,481,873. The department will receive a large part of their funding from the Special Revenue Fund. The Building Fund, Conservation Trust Fund, and the Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) Lake Fund all contribute to the department’s revenue. Furthermore, a portion of the Ad Valorem Tax, or better known as the property tax, is dedicated to fund the Parks and Recreation division. Ad Valorem Taxes dedicated to the Parks and Recreation Fund amount to total revenue of $21,380,803 for the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year. $19,931,619 will be spent on capital improvements for Parks and Recreation. Meanwhile, Parks and Recreation Impact Fees are budgeted at $3.7 million. Those fees fall under the category of Capital Impact Fees which are charges that are assessed on new development to pay for public infrastructure. These fees also help pay for the costs of Parks and Recreation improvement projects within Orange County. Funding from the General Fund which is made up of a series of funding sources which include, sales taxes, gas taxes, and revenue shared with the state also contribute to funding for the department.
The department is projected to use these funds to cover personnel costs, operating expenses, capital improvements, grants, and reserves. Capital improvements include $20 million for park expansions as part of the INVEST in Our Home for Life initiative. The $20 million dollars are projected to be used for the development of new parks or the improvement of existing parks and facilities. The department is also projected to use funds on grants aimed at assisting qualifying Orange County residents with housing down-payments, and awarding Community Development Block Grants for competitive non-profits.
If you would like a more in-depth explanation of any of Orange County’s Government Financial Policies you can contact the Office of Management and Budget at (407) 836-7390 or see Orange County’s Administrative Regulations. To learn more about the Planning and Zoning Divisions you please visit: http://www.orangecountyfl.net/PlanningDevelopment.aspx. To learn more about Environmental Protection visit: http://www.orangecountyfl.net/Environment.aspx.
Bryan Nelson sits on the Orange County Board of Commissioners and Represents District 7 which includes Apopka and Northwest Orange County.
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