By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
I'm happy to give you this update and I am just one of seven city council members and not its spokesman. I try to be unbiased in my reports, but what you're receiving is strictly from my perspective.
As promised I have done some research and I'd like to give you my best thinking on the proposed FY 17-18 Mount Dora city budget. Readers please understand that as always, I am only speaking for myself and I don't mean to imply that my report to you represents City Council Council as a whole. I'm only one of 7 members.
I think it's safe to say that no one likes higher taxes. There had better be a sound rational and a real need for raising the millage rate or I'm not interested. The current 5.9970 millage rate has been in effect since 2014. Our city staff has recommended raising that to 6.50 mills for the upcoming fiscal year 2017-18 budget. They have crunched the numbers and they believe that we will need extra dollars to fund about 11 proposed new positions.
As your city council has worked through a very exhaustive budget review process I have learned that we have been operating with about the same number of staff members in our Public Safety Department in 2017 as we had back in 2007 when our population and the number of visitors to Mount Dora were considerably lower. We are all concerned about increased crime. To that end, we are considering hiring 4 additional sworn police officers, 2 additional part-time police communications dispatchers, and 2 additional fire fighters. Those 8 new public safety staff members would go along way toward our goal of keeping our citizens safe and our property secure. We have about 25% more people now, lots more roads and neighborhoods to patrol, more need for fire/rescue services, etc. More growth is expected and our city will continue to grow as the Wekiva Parkway opens soon and the Wolf Branch Innovation District begins to develop. Those new homes and businesses will be paying taxes too but we've got to be ready for them.
Other things that need to be done include much needed enhancements to our urban forestry efforts to care for our existing trees and provide for appropriate future foliage. We also need to continue to plan for the future of our fire and police departments and complete a long overdue parks and recreation long range planning study. Proper planning is essential. I consider it an investment.
Here's the real question...What will all this cost me? I've made some calculations on my home and my tax bill. You probably received you "TRIM Notice" from the Lake County Taxing Authority in the past few days. The "Taxable Value" is the important number to look at. In my case the Taxable Value is $199,931. Let's round that up to $200,000. My Mount Dora taxes would increase by about $76. if our millage rate goes up from the current 5.9970 to the proposed 6.50 mills.
Folks with a home valued at $60,000 would see about a $5 annual increase. If your house is Tax valued at $300,000, your Mount Dora taxes would go up by $126. Remember it's not what you think your house is actually worth, it's that Taxable Value amount that your taxes are base on.
Building a budget is a complex process. New health insurance rates, a sudden change in fuel prices or any of a hundred other moving parts can affect our calculations. We will continue to tweak the numbers over the next few weeks and finalize the process on September 19th.
I hope this helps you to be able to calculate your own tax bill. If you have questions you can also contact the City of Mount Dora Finance Department.
I saw today's quote at tobymac#SPEAKLIFE; "Being an adult is often like folding a fitted sheet". I agree.