The Wellington Village Council finalized its budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2019-20 on Tuesday, Sept. 24 after a second public hearing. Both the $106.27 million budget and the tax rate of 2.47 mills were approved unanimously 5-0.
Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel gave the council an overview of the budget document for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
“We are here for the second public hearing to adopt the fiscal year 2020 annual budget and millage rate,” Quickel said.
The proposed budget of $106.27 million is an increase of $9.4 million from last year. The budget increase is mainly from the following areas: $5.3 million is for utility debt service, capital projects and operations; $1.6 million for personnel costs, equipment replacements and operations; $1 million for building permitting and inspections; $500,000 for law enforcement services; and $1.0 million for indirect costs and transfers.
Revenues in the budget range from charges on services to permit fees and assessments. Water and wastewater services, recreation revenues and Wycliffe drainage amount to 23 percent of the revenue, equaling $24,528,942. The ad valorem property taxes bring in 19 percent of the revenue, which amounts to $20,381,267. Reserves and transfers make up 17 percent at $17,815,387, while utility, local fuel and use taxes are 12 percent of revenue or $13,271,000. Non ad valorem assessments are 8 percent at $8,990,050, while permits, fees and assessments are budgeted at 8 percent or $8,696,300. Sales tax and intergovernmental revenue is at 7 percent or $7,715,368, and impact fees and interest bring in 5 percent or $5,843,720.
Expenditures in the budget show that running the government costs $19,920,713 or 19 percent for administration, finance, information technology, code enforcement, community services, senior programs and neighborhood grants. Public works takes up 18 percent of the expenditures or $19,605,574 for maintaining roads, facilities, landscaping, park maintenance, engineering and pest control. Utilities and solid waste services, which include collection and recycling, totals $18,302,212 or 17 percent of the budget expenditures. Capital projects like storm water facilities and the sheriff’s substation makes up 16 percent of the budget at $17,171,500. Transfers and debt service total 16 percent of the budget at $16,640,849, while public safety like law enforcement and emergency operations cost the village $10,055,050 or 9 percent. Recreation and culture, which include athletic, aquatics, cultural and community programs, is 5 percent of the expenditures at $5,546,167.
From the 2019 Budget Challenge Survey, Quickel explained that residents prioritize law enforcement, neighborhood safety, flood/drainage control and code enforcement. Other comments pointed to supporting events at the Wellington Amphitheater. The largest group responding was 45 to 65 years old.
Major capital improvement projects over the next year include the Wellington High School Sports Complex, Sheriff’s Substation Planning & Design, the Town Center Boardwalk and improvements to neighborhood parks.
Quickel calculated the millage rate at 2.47 over time, as requested by the council. While the rate is slightly lower than last year, some residents will pay more due to rising property values.
“The 2.47 millage rate is 2.87 percent higher than the rollback rate of 2.401 mills,” Quickel said. “The rollback rate is the rate that applied to this year’s total assessed valuation of $8.69 billion yields the same ad valorem tax revenues as the previous year or $19.81 million, adjusted for discounts. Adopting a proposed rate of 2.47 mills generates $20.38 million, adjusted for discounts, for an increase of approximately $734,000 from last year. The proposed millage rate of 2.47 mills for the Wellington governmental budget including Acme Improvement District funds is a 7.1 percent operating increase over the prior year. The proposed millage rate of 2.47 mills for the Wellington governmental budget excluding Acme Improvement District and enterprise funds is 7.8 percent operating increase over the prior year.”
Quickel told the council that the levels of service from last year will be maintained. “Residents will get great services, great schools, great parks and great neighborhoods. This makes Wellington a great hometown,” she said.
Quickel further noted that Wellington was recently listed as Number 78 on Money magazine’s Best Places to Live 2019 list. The magazine lists Wellington in the top 100 places to live in the United States and one of the eight best places to retire in the U.S. Wellington has also been listed as Number 33 on Florida’s 50 safest cities, according to Safewise.com.