Please read the Mayor’s Message in the November/December 2008 City of Winter Park Update.
David Strong is straining to tell you that the City Commission increased your millage rate for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2008, raising taxes for all Winter Park property owners. David Strong, Beth Dillaha, Margie Bridges, and Phil Anderson voted for the increase. Karen Diebel voted no.
If you own a homestead property your taxes may be lower than last year because of the increase in your homestead exemption but they WOULD HAVE BEEN EVEN LOWER if the City Commission had not increased the millage rate. Winter Park taxes on non-homestead property go up in all cases versus last year and renters will likely see this increase passed on to them.
Everyone knows that the value of their homes may have declined as much as 30% as the housing bubble burst in the last 18 months. Most everyone’s retirement assets have declined in value and our spending has been impacted by rising prices. Every citizen is faced with lower asset values, higher prices, and many face lower income prospects.
Why did the City Commission vote to increase our millage rate in this environment?
Answer: Because the city has insufficient general fund reserves to weather the downturn in local economic activity and values.
Why does the city have insufficient general fund reserves?
Answer: Because David Strong and his supporters insisted that the developers of the former post office redevelopment project be “made whole” (David Strong’s words) at the expense of Winter Park taxpayers.
The city spent $4,000,000 in cash (almost all our general fund reserves at the time) to make the investors in the terminated post office redevelopment “whole.” This excludes legal fees and opportunity costs associated with wasting our time and focus.
… AND NOW DAVID STRONG AND HIS SUPPORTERS INCREASE OUR TAXES. They expose us to unnecessary risk, waste our city reserves, and now they vote to increase our taxes because the city is in a financial bind of their making.