Wellington Approves Budget Resolutions

The Wellington Village Council on Tuesday approved five resolutions adopting the 2017 budgets and assessment rates for the Acme Improvement District, solid waste collection and the Saddle Trail Park South neighborhood road improvements, as well as budgets for the Lake Wellington Professional Centre and the village’s water and wastewater utility. All the budgets were essentially unchanged from previous budget discussions.

Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel said that the proposed budget for all funds is $89.5 million, which is $4 million higher than the 2016 budget. The two largest increases are in the general fund of $2.5 million, primarily due to new positions for building maintenance as part of the new Wellington Community Center, returning to a five-day workweek, a 2 percent increase in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office contract that includes two additional deputies, and moving neighborhood parks from Acme back into the general fund.

Another big increase is $1.9 million in water and wastewater projects, primarily due to increased major maintenance, new positions and the replacement of the Peaceful Waters boardwalk.

There is no change in Acme’s proposed $230 per unit assessment, for a total of $6.9 million. The water and wastewater rate is also unchanged for a total budget of $19.5 million, which is up slightly from this year. The solid waste assessment is down $5 at $135 for curbside collection and $100 for containerized collection, for a total $3.9 million budget. The $5 reduction is due to a successful renegotiation of the contract in 2015.

The Lake Wellington Professional Centre has a $763,000 budget that is covered by monthly lease payments. It includes a roof replacement of about $175,000. Quickel added that the center is fully maintaining itself with the money it brings in.

The Saddle Trail assessment is $1,779 per acre and is applicable only to residents of that neighborhood.

“Saddle Trail is a new project that went through several years of council review and approval for public works projects that are improvements for the road, as well as installation of water and utilities in that area,” Quickel said. “That project is currently under construction now and is only assessed to the residents in that area. This is the first time that it appears on their tax notice.”

Acme’s $6.9 million budget is lower than the current year, due primarily to moving the 25 neighborhood parks back into the general fund.

“As we have discussed before, the use of Acme reserves dictates that we do one of three things — change the assessment, move the services or reduce the level of services,” Quickel said.

The Acme budget covers 68 miles of public equestrian trails, 89 miles of canals and operation of eight pump stations. Expenditures include mosquito and pest control over Acme’s 32 square miles, maintenance of equestrian trails, maintenance at Wellington’s environmental preserves, surface water management and pump maintenance, as well as compensation and merit and pay increases.

The enterprise funds budget is up slightly at a total of $23.7 million, with the water and wastewater budget at $12.4 million and solid waste at $3.6 million. Capital projects primarily in water and wastewater are almost $5 million.

The water and wastewater utility produces 2.2 billion gallons of potable water annually and treats 1.6 billion gallons of wastewater for more than 20,000 customers. It is in the process of replacing 3 miles of water distribution piping. It employs 53 full-time staff and 4,680 part-time hours.

The council adopted a preliminary Truth in Millage (TRIM) tax rate of 2.44 mills on July 12 for its 2016-17 budget, 0.01 mill lower than the 2.45 mills that funds the current budget. The formal public hearings on the budget will be held in September.

In other business, the council approved a resolution accepting a $500,000 cultural grant award from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs for the new community center.

Quickel said it was the second grant tied to the community center, which held its grand opening last Saturday.

“We are very happy about that,” she said. “That brings our total of grants received for the community center to $700,000.”

Mayor Anne Gerwig asked whether there are other grant applications in process, and Quickel said there are several tied to other parks and recreation facilities.

Quickel said the $500,000 grant must be tied to cultural activities related to the building. The previous $200,000 grant went to improvements to the boardwalk and other outdoor facilities around Lake Wellington.

“This [$500,000] grant goes through the legislative process, so we actually made the application starting in 2015 and it went through last year’s legislative appropriation process with a number of other grants,” she said, explaining that she and Parks & Recreation Director Bruce DeLaney traveled to Jacksonville to give information about the application. “We were successfully included in their group of award recommendations.”

Councilman Michael Napoleone complimented Quickel and staff on securing the grants. “I think that’s fantastic and a benefit to everyone, so we really appreciate it,” he said.

Vice Mayor John McGovern made a motion to approve the resolution accepting the grant, which carried 5-0.