Wellington Seeks Resident Input On Budget As Final OK Nears

Meeting virtually, the Wellington Village Council held a public hearing Tuesday, Aug. 11 and approved portions of its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The council adopted resolutions approving the budgets and assessment rates for the Acme Improvement District, solid waste collection and the Saddle Trail Park Neighborhood Improvement District, as well as resolutions adopting the budgets for Wellington’s water and wastewater utility and the Lake Wellington Professional Centre.

The council also reviewed its overall budget package for fiscal year 2020-21, with the final opportunity for public input set for meetings on Sept. 8 and Sept. 22. The final budget is slated for adoption Sept. 22 for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

Wellington Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel explained that the total updated, preliminary budget includes revenues of $96.9 million and expenditures of $101.6 million with the $5 million spread covered by reserves from various accounts to balance the budget.

Quickel said that the majority of the revenue is made up of charges for services and the taxes. An explanatory video is also posted and information about the budget is available on the village’s web site at www.wellingtonfl.gov/budget in the effort to seek out comments and questions from the public.

“We want to learn what projects and initiatives are important to residents,” Quickel said.

Her presentation showed that 22,900 private residences in Wellington have a taxable value of $8.9 billion, which is an average tax value per home of $300,000. This represents a 2.9 percent increase in value over the last year.

The millage rate remains constant with the previous year’s rate at 2.47 mills. This figure could be made lower by the council but cannot go higher. At this rate, the average homesteaded property will owe a tax bill of $741, which represents a slight increase over 2019-20 because of the increase in home values.

Quickel reported that the non-ad valorem tax rate for the Acme Improvement District is $230 per unit. The solid waste fee is slightly higher at $135 for curbside and $100 for container pickup. The water base rate is $20.71, and the wastewater base rate is $19.75.

Councilman John McGovern asked about the budget for the Lake Wellington Professional Centre. The future of the facility has been much debated by the council over the past three years. The revenues are flat amid the current economic crisis, and expanded building maintenance and higher insurance premiums have increased the expenditures by $89,000.

McGovern also asked for further explanation for the additional $868,000 governmental expenditure in the utilities budget. This was due to adding two positions to the 59 positions and 7 supplemental positions, as well as merit salary increases, benefits and health insurance increases for staff. The higher rate for the solid waste contract and escalating costs for chemicals and supplies added to the increase.

McGovern made a motion to approve the budget resolutions, seconded by Councilman Michael Drahos. They were adopted unanimously.

In other business:

• The council heard public comment from resident Alexander Terry, who lives on Wellington Trace just west of Greenview Shores Blvd. He complained that cars are speeding on his street to the extent that he feels it is dangerous to allow his children to play in the front yard of their home.

Mayor Anne Gerwig asked staff about increased enforcement in the area and to explore possible traffic-calming measures.

Village Manager Paul Schofield promised to do a speed study in the area and work with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on enforcement.

Gerwig noted that there are several areas in need of such enforcement. “Let’s look at this community wide,” she said.

Drahos thanked Terry for bringing his concerns to the council.

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” he said. “We don’t want any resident to feel unsafe in their front yard.”

• The council unanimously approved its annual action plan for the Community Development Block Grant Program. This approval was in order for the village to be eligible for a grant of almost $300,000 that can be used to help senior residents make home modifications to age in place.

• It was announced that a COVID-19 testing site has opened in cooperation with Premier Family Health at the Wellington Community Center, located at 12150 W. Forest Hill Blvd. It is open to anyone, with or without symptoms. It is free, and online reservations are available at www.wellingtonfl.gov/testing. They will try to accommodate walk-ins, but reservations are recommended.

• Gerwig was again named to the Florida League of Cities as a voting member.