Updated: Jan 30
As Mayor, I will not raise taxes. The City is in great financial shape to weather economic challenges, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if we experience a short-term drop in sales tax and commercial property tax revenues, our financial reserves are strong enough to keep us fiscally sound. This is due in large part to actions I took as City Commissioner from 2008-2011.
I used my financial management background as Commissioner during the 2008 financial crisis to spearhead policies that kept our City safe and prepared us for the future. I worked with City staff to restructure our municipal bonds, saving the City millions of dollars. I initiated multi-year forecasts of the City’s budget to plan for the future. I worked with the City staff to find efficiencies and cut costs. Much of those savings continue to this day.
However, I made sure we did not sacrifice our Police and Fire services. I said NO to proposed Police and Fire Department staffing cuts – the safety of our neighborhoods was not up for negotiation. Our public safety record makes Winter Park special, and it raises our long-term property values.
To cover the $400,000 of revenue needed to keep our Police and Fire Departments fully staffed, my fellow Commissioners and I voted to raise our millage rate slightly – an increase of about $20 a year for a $250,000 home.
Without that slight increase, Winter Park Police would have been understaffed in the middle of a recession, and our neighborhoods would have been less safe.
It wasn’t an easy choice to make, but it was the right one. We still have the best Police and Fire response times in Central Florida, our property values have increased, and we have grown our financial “rainy day reserve” from $2.7 million to $17 million.
Today, there is no need to raise taxes — and as your Mayor, I won’t.