Each of us plan for our family’s future. Shouldn’t our city commission do the same for Winter Park? This commission has been spending our money without any strategic purpose or fiduciary responsibility, not planning and investing for our city’s future. Spending is easy and wasteful. Investing is hard and useful. Please review the following and let the city commission know your thoughts.
They have gone off the deep end, projecting $127,000,000 in new spending, $65,000,000 over the next five years.
$127,000,000 – Yes, that’s one hundred twenty seven million dollars. $51,000,000 of this is allocated to “traffic and parking.” Why should our taxes pay to improve roads we don’t control and provide parking for commercial interests? A further $4,900,000 is projected to build a parking garage on Orange Ave. Why are they spending our money to support commercial interests on Orange Avenue? Several of the projects on the list have already been authorized or committed as detailed below. Other projects have not been defined. No strategic rationale has been offered for any of this spending.
Authorized/Committed Projects (so far):
$15,000,000 – Authorized to acquire the 2 acre US Post Office on New York Avenue and move the Winter Park Post Office out of downtown. Last appraisal of this land was about $2,500,000 in 2014. The commission is currently paying a lobbyist $6,500/mth primarily to pressure the US Postal Service to sell their land for 3 to 6 times its value when they have told us multiple times it is not for sale. This spending alone makes it clear they don’t understand their fiduciary responsibility and it needs to be stopped.
$1,475,000 – Bought 901 West Fairbanks and 919 West Fairbanks totaling 0.28 acres for more than two times the Orange County Appraiser’s estimated market value. No appraisals were done. City assumed environmental liabilities. City to also pay to demolish existing buildings, clear and improve the property. Properties abut the Denning/Fairbanks sink hole. Commission also plans to purchase additional properties on Fairbanks at whatever price the owners want with no appraisals. No benefits of these purchases have been quantified and there is no plan. See this post.
$2,146,000 – Progress Point infrastructure and park committed dollars, so far. No definition of park boundaries, purpose, or amenities. Plan to plant $200,000 of mature shade trees (are we Disney World?). Cart before the horse here as there is no private interest to develop anything to their new Orange Avenue Overlay codes. They are spending public dollars to support commercial interests with no payback for the city or the residents, rather than work to leverage the Progress Point asset worth about $8,000,000. Why?
$2,800,000 – Spent $1,200,000 on park “improvements” with no plan and $1,600,000 for two artificial turf paying fields that primarily benefit for-profit sports leagues and non-residents. They intentionally hid this spending by using Water and Sewer reserve funds, instead of reducing General Fund Reserves. We love our parks and want our children to have first class playing fields but why didn’t they focus spending on a detailed plan to support Winter Park children and fund this through the normal public budget process? See this post.
$15,438,814 – Federal “Rescue” Act money coming to Winter Park is subject to constraints. The city commission currently plans to spend all this money on their pet projects with no public outreach and no strategic context. I ask again, why isn’t a large part of this money being distributed to Winter Park residents and businesses?