Our Tuesday July 30th Mount Dora City Council meeting had a very limited (two item) agenda. Please remember that I am reporting not on behalf of city council as a whole but only as one member of council.
The first resolution we approved was a nondisclosure agreement between Mount Dora and the Lake County Property Appraiser for information "exempt" from public disclosure. What the heck does that mean anyway? Well, there are some public servants such as police officers and possibly judges, etc. whose home addresses, phone numbers, etc. are exempt from public records. This protects them from having their home addresses published and offers them and their families some measure of safety from criminals who might use that information to harass or harm them. They definitely deserve that protection.
Most of our meeting was a lively discussion around setting a TENTATIVE millage rate for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget year. The FINAL millage rate for FY 2019-20 will be set in stone on September 19th, that's the rate that really matters. To make a long story a little shorter, we passed a resolution today to TENTATIVELY set the millage rate at 6.5 mills. That slightly higher TENTATIVE rate is the rate that will appear on your TRIM Notice homeowners will receive by mail in August. Don't panic when you open your TRIM Notice. That will not be the FINAL millage rate. A majority of your city council members pledged today that we would not vote for anything higher than the current millage which is 6.3 mills on September 19th. Unless there is a catastrophic event like a major hurricane in the next 7 weeks your millage rate will not increase and it could possibly decrease.
Just for your information, Mount Dora property values have increased by about 10.4% since last year. Some of that is due to rising property values. The value of your house has gone up. Some of that increase is also from the addition of new homes (in my neighborhood alone about 60 new homes have been built since last year). I would guess that city wide about 100 new residences came onto the tax rolls this fiscal year. Another part of that increase in property value comes from new commercial construction such as Epic Theaters or the renovations to the Sunset building downtown just to name a few that came onto the tax tolls in FY 2018-19. Remember, homeowners who live in their own homes (not rental houses) are protected by their Homestead Exemption that limits their property tax increases to no more than 3% per year. Conversely, If property values decrease like they did in 2008-09 your taxes could go down 30% or more in one year.
We listened to community members who voiced their opinions and we argued with our colleagues tonight. That's what democracy looks like and that is healthy and appropriate. We began the budget building process several months ago. There will be several more budget meetings over the upcoming weeks and in the end I am confidant that we will have an FY 2019-20 budget that will be balanced, that will not increase millage rates and will enable us to make progress toward addressing the legitimate needs of Mount Dora.
Comedian Jon Stewart has been in the news recently for his efforts to fully fund the medical bills of first responders who were sickened or died from their heroic work at Ground Zero on 9/11. Our quote tonight is also from Jon Stewart; "There should be a draft where every young person has to do one year of something - military, public works - something so that we all feel invested in the same game, because that's the part we've lost."
No matter if we agree or disagree, thanks for allowing me to be your District 4 City Council Representative.
Dr. Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Representative, District 4