Log in
Apopka City Council

Millage, budget, and reserves debate now turns to Apopka residents

Readers speak out on Becker's comments


Commissioner Kyle Becker will not be on the City Council when the 2024/25 budget workshops begin. His term ends in April. But at last week's meeting, he certainly got the ball rolling.

"This board often squabbles over percentage points of a millage rate when it can mean having money to do the exact things you are asking us to do," Becker said to a packed house at City Hall. "In the last budget season, this board decided not to increase our millage rate slightly. We could have had half a million more dollars... but we didn't do it because we didn't know where to put it." 

The discussion included the millage rate, the budget, and general fund reserves. 

The next day, after The Apopka Voice article detailed Becker's thoughts, readers responded en masse on social media and the news site.

Michael Duran thinks that if the budget and reserves were utilized more effectively, Apopka could keep its taxes low, at least for a while.

"Taxes would not have to be raised if the reserves were managed better," he said. "At least for now. With a city growing like Apopka, sooner than later, your taxes would have to be raised. Becker hit on a really good point to figure out if that is needed now or later. He suggested department heads come to the workshops with their needs and wants. Did you know during the last cycle, that needed staff was in the fire department budget, only to be red-lined (taken out) solely by the mayor? Some wants and needs don’t even make it to the workshop."

Justin Sillart wants to see Apopka become a city that has amenities comparable to other cities in the region.

"I am personally in favor of a push for some more modern creature comforts within Apopka," he said. "It’s silly to think that, in order to be entertained (granted each individual’s definition can be different), we have to travel 20+ minutes out to take a stroll in Winter Garden, Winter Park or Mt. Dora to do so. We have the means to be thematically driven as a naturally preserved themed locale while embracing the city’s rich history. The extra money in budget should be considered to address that."

Waiting for investors to make land purchases and “saving the day” regarding developing our city’s aesthetic is giving too much creative control to them. Sadly, not enough to the people of this city. We need to be more aggressive in wanting people (both locals and non-Apopka residents) to visit Apopka on a weekend rather than everyone head into their cars, get on SR429 and spend money in those other locales. Which are constantly growing.

That spending money would be great revenue long-term for the city and would only further help us grow. Whether people like to hear it or not, Apopka is growing exponentially. We need to stop being in denial about this. Allow the growth and population increase to fund our city’s goals. We shouldn’t be sitting on our hands over this. If no action is taken and we do nothing about this particular agenda we are going to just be another “bedroom community” while all other towns around us flourish between their ability to promote both business and leisure opportunities and have a strong identity.

We undoubtedly have these capabilities. We just need to put them to better use."

Angela Dempsey hopes that all Council members take Becker's lead.

"I wish the city council members would speak boldly during their time in office, not just at the end of their tenure," she said. "I am all for having a financial cushion but agree with using tried and true recommendations for the surplus fund. I love downtown Winter Garden because it is clean, welcoming, and family-friendly. I would be delighted for downtown Apopka to be that for our residents. Our parks (Kit Nelson and the soccer fields) should be places you are excited to visit and proud to bring friends to visit. This is not currently true. The budget process will have to change - including room for visions of a brighter, cleaner, safer Apopka. Perhaps include some landscaping in the medians, edging the grass in public areas, and taking down dead trees on city-owned property. Make the city look like you would want your home to look - loved. No one is for raising taxes unless we have a common plan that cannot be accomplished with our current funds."

Jim Nisbet thinks Apopka should leave the tax rate alone but manage the reserves better.

"Why raise taxes when we have such a surplus? If we manage what we have, and we have millions in surplus, what is the justification? And in case you didn't notice, we live in Florida. We get hurricanes. We also do have some major infrastructure on the horizon, so a good surplus is a good thing. But since we have so much surplus, per you and Becker, how can you justify raising taxes in any way? I wish you would stop trying to get the local politicians to raise our taxes so you can try and turn Apopka into Winter Garden. Enough already."

Stuart Morrell said he would miss Becker's analysis of issues and thanked him for his service to the community.

"Kyle Becker will certainly be missed. His forward-looking attitude and questioning of the status quo have been very good for the City. In many instances, he was met with a firm NO from the current administration, but his research allowed the other commissioners to understand things they might not have been aware of. Mr Becker deserves a HUGE thank you from the residents of the City!"

Jeff Tyre agreed with Becker and pointed to recent mishaps to make his point.

Commissioner Becker was absolutely correct. Look at the state of our town. Sewer pipes are busting, roadways are deteriorating with the increase in population and the overall blight of our downtown," he said. "Decades of touting 'look at Apopka with the lowest millage rates in the county' has now shown its face. It’s ugly."

Apopka, Apopka City Council, Commissioner Kyle Becker, Millage, Budget, Taxes, Reserves


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here