Wellington Asks Residents To Take ‘Budget Challenge’

Wellington residents are encouraged to take the village’s budget challenge and have their voices heard on how tax dollars should be spent.

The budget challenge kicked off this week and is available online at www.whatsupwellington.org.

“We’re hoping to engage as many residents as possible through outlets like social media and our web site,” Wellington Chief Financial Officer Tanya Quickel told the Town-Crier Wednesday.

The budget challenge is a survey that asks residents to rate how they believe Wellington should spend its money, with answers ranging from supporting, remaining neutral and not supporting, as well as an “other” slot with the ability to write in answers. There are also yes or no questions, with options for “neutral” and “other.”

Responders remain anonymous, Quickel said. There are about a dozen questions, with room for general comments.

The topics vary from raising Acme Improvement District assessments to improve drainage, to satisfaction with the parks and recreation amenities and with law enforcement. Residents are also asked to rate how safe they feel in the community, and to rank their priorities for spending village funds.

Quickel said the information will help Wellington officials finalize the budget.

“The answers will be accumulated and presented to council members and staff, who will use it to gauge the community’s feelings,” she said.

Last month, council members set a preliminary tax rate that would see a small increase in taxes for residents. The council set the preliminary tax rate at 2.5 mills, up slightly from last year’s rate of 2.47 mills.

The “truth in millage” or TRIM rate of 2.5 mills means a village property tax of $2.50 for every $1,000 of taxable value.

At that rate, the owner of a home assessed at $150,000 after all exemptions would pay $375 in village property taxes next year.

As proposed, the budget is $78.7 million, up about $4.24 million from last year.

The budget as proposed is made up of $50.25 million in governmental funds, up $6.62 million from last year, and $19.32 million in enterprise funds, up $27,000.

Capital projects are budgeted at $3.3 million, down $1.3 million, and utility capital projects make up $5.3 million of the budget.

The council also preliminarily approved a $100 annual increase in residents non-ad valorem assessments for Acme — from $200 to $300 — to finance drainage improvements. The necessity of the increase is one of the questions on the budget challenge.

But the budget will not be finalized until next month, meaning those numbers could change, and residents could make a difference by sharing their opinions in the budget challenge.

The Acme assessment will go before the council for final adoption at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 27. Two public hearings on the budget are scheduled for Sept. 10 and Sept. 24, when the budget will be finalized and adopted. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

For more information about the budget, visit www.wellingtonfl.gov.