Less Tax Increase: As anticipated, yesterday the commission reversed their July 22 vote to increase the millage rate 11.5%, voting to keep the rate constant at 4.0923. Based on increases in taxable valuations from the Orange County Appraiser, this means homestead property will still see a typical increase of 2.3% and non-homestead property will see a 10% increase with the unchanged millage rate. Mayor Leary proposed lowering the millage rate to keep property tax revenue the same as 2020 which none of the other commission members supported.
There was a difference of opinion on lowering the millage rate below last year’s rate many will find of interest.
A quote from Commissioner DeCiccio representing the argument for not lowering the millage rate, “To roll back taxes now would be fiscally irresponsible, in a pandemic which the commission has never faced before, when revenues are way down and there is a substantial projected shortfall for next year. It doesn’t make any sense and if there is going to be a rollback why wouldn’t you have done it during all these prior years when the city was flush with cash? It just to me defies everything that we stand for and so no, I could absolutely not go… and we would be doing it on the backs of the employees of Winter Park. I could never ever agree to that.”
Response from Mayor Leary, “Just to answer your question, you do it (lower the millage rate) during times of hardship to show the residents who are paying these salaries through their taxes that we understand the struggles they are going through too and we are willing to tighten our belt. That’s why you do it.”
Commissioner DeCiccio’s comments represent the interests of the government of Winter Park. Mayor Leary’s comments represent the interests of the people of Winter Park.
More chickens: Also yesterday, the Winter Park city commission approved an ordinance allowing up to 25 permits for chickens to be kept in back yard coops on single family properties. The ordinance will sunset in 24 months if not modified. Changes were made to the draft ordinance. Importantly for property owners not wanting chickens on their adjacent neighbors back yard, the ordinance now requires the explicit approval of all adjacent property owners (not 10 days to object once noticed) for a permit to be approved. This was the second reading meaning the ordinance is now effective. Commission members Sullivan, Weaver, and DeCiccio voted “yes.” Leary and Cooper voted “no.”
I don’t think we needed to spend time and resources on this issue.