Budget Addresses

15 Result(s) Found

July 28, 2003
City Hall

Good morning and welcome. I want to thank those citizens who have joined us today in the City Council chambers as well as those of you at home, who are watching this presentation in the comfort of your living rooms.

Today we mark the 153rd day of our administration. And, while the challenges we have faced in these first five months have at times been daunting, this administration and this City Council have met the challenge. Stop and think for a minute about the last five months.

After discovering a $23 million shortfall for this budget year, working with the city council we were able to balance the city’s budget without raiding the general fund reserves…and we did it in the first 20 days of this administration.

We had a little more than 12 hours to transition from the Buddy Dyer for Mayor campaign to the Buddy Dyer administration at City Hall and I believe we managed that process seamlessly. Much of the credit for that successful transition must go to City staff.

City staff, who love their work, but above all, love this city and desperately want us to succeed and move the City Beautiful forward. City workers have been asked to roll up their sleeves and do more with less and we march forward today due in large part to their sacrifice and commitment to excellence. They have done enough.

Today, I am rescinding the implementation of the furlough program we designed in March to help us balance this year’s budget. Based on our end of the year projections, I believe we can maintain our balanced budget for this year without that sacrifice…for those employees who have already worked a day or more without pay, those dollars will be returned to you.

Contained in my budget submission today is a 2% increase in salaries, a Holiday Bonus and Longevity Bonus. What is not in that budget document is my sincere thanks to all city employees for seeing us through a difficult couple of months. And, I want to again say thank you to each and every city employee. My hope is that maintaining these pay incentives and bonus programs will demonstrate the value I place on each one of you.

While transition time was short, we did manage to successfully launch a transition team to review the functions of the city from top to bottom. Wayne Rich, who today serves as our City Attorney, led that effort. The transition team was charged with leaving no stone unturned in its review of city government. They were told that there were no sacred cows. In less than 90 days they produced a roadmap that will, over time, help lead us to the revitalization of our great city and the services we provide.

In these first 153 days we have watched our nation go to war and Orlando has been in the national spotlight, as we welcomed home David Williams. In these first 153 days we have restored our relationship with Orange County, which has led not only to our staffs meeting and working together on a regular basis, but also to an agreement to move forward on Mobility 20/20. And we did it in a way that guarantees the City of Orlando will have a major role in the discussions surrounding our transportation future.

And we didn’t stop there. In addition to the agreement on Mobility 20/20 we have reached seven additional agreements with the County Commission and Chairman Crotty. These include various boundary agreements, which had become contentious in the past, as well as an agreement facilitated by Commissioner Homer Hartage to provide reduced rate hook-ups to the city sewer system for county neighborhoods. I will continue to work to move the City and County forward…together.

Working with your City Commissioners these first 153 days, we have moved forward on developing a town center in Metro West that will create family-wage jobs and a greater sense of community in that area. And, today the City Council will be asked to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with CNL that will create the impetus for building the first new office building in downtown Orlando in three years, creating over 400 new family wage jobs and allowing the citizens of Orlando to control the future development of the area we call the “Super Block” in our downtown corridor.

We have appointed a Downtown Strategic Task Force, chaired by Cari Coats, to do an exhaustive review of how and what our Downtown should look like in the future. And, to make recommendations on how we get there.

I have asked Bill Sublette to chair the Mayors Education Action Group. Bill has committed his energy and vitality to the mission of making the City of Orlando public schools better and to finding a way to expand the opportunity for children to attend Pre-K classes in Orlando.

Jim Pugh has accepted the challenge of helping to give direction to our plans to develop a new Performing Arts Center that will be located somewhere in our downtown corridor… perhaps across the street on the “Super Block”.

We have in these first 153 days, in the face of record budget deficits, successfully reorganized City government. Today, the City of Orlando has a cabinet that meets with your Mayor twice a week to interact and advise on the progress and challenges each of our departments face on a daily basis. Never before has the city had a structure in which each city department can listen and realize the potential of the synergy between departments. Fire Chief Bowman and Police Chief McCoy will tell you that they are the envy of their colleagues around the state because of the access they have to their Mayor. And we are going to keep it that way.

And we have taken the necessary, but incredibly difficult, steps to streamline city operations and downsize our workforce.

With each action there is always a reaction. Some have argued that we have taken these steps and made these changes at city hall as a political calculation…nothing could be further from the truth. The beaten path is always the safest…doing nothing or maintaining the status quo is far easier and safer politically than taking bold steps to effect change even when change is desperately needed. Doing what is right for the city regardless of the political consequences has been my guiding principle as we are moving the city forward.

We have done much in 153 days, but we still have much to do.

As the City Commissioners and many of you know, we conducted extensive budget workshops for the first time in our city’s history. During the budget camp we were advised by our Office of Management, Budget and Accounting that we had a potential $14 million dollar shortfall based on revenue projections and the proposed 2003/2004 budgets that had been submitted. I asked our Directors to sharpen their pencils.

Today, I will give to the City Commissioners a balanced budget, while holding the line on property taxes, without touching our general fund reserves and without further work force reductions.

Many of the challenges we have faced as a city are due to circumstances beyond my control or the control of Mayor Hood. Since September 11, 2001 our state, and in particular our city, has been reeling from an economic downturn that has dramatically affected the travel and tourism industry. Unemployment is down slightly from last year’s high of 5.6%, when Mayor Hood presented her last budget address, to a slightly lower rate of 5.2% today. But what hasn’t changed in this economic downturn is the disproportionate and dramatic impact every economic downturn has on African American and Hispanic families in our city and across this country. While the overall rate of unemployment for Orlando today is 5.2%, the unemployment rate among African Americans and Hispanic families is substantially higher.

As I worked with the cabinet in crafting this budget, we operated with several guiding principles in mind as we tried to make the cuts necessary to get us to a balanced budget next year. The first principle was that we would not cut public safety services to our citizens to balance the budget.

Cities were founded and established to provide police and fire services to their citizens. The foundation and core of our administration is the police and fire departments of this city. I have pledged that regardless of the budget circumstances and economic downturn, I would not propose a city budget that compromises public safety services.

Working with Chief Bowman and Chief McCoy, as well as Sam Hoffman of the Fraternal Order of Police and Steve Clellan of the Orlando Firefighters, I am happy to report that, while we have done some belt tightening in both departments, the proposed budget will put more police officers on the street and more firefighters on trucks than last past years’ budgets. This will help ensure that the city beautiful also remains one of the safest cities in Florida.

In addition, we are moving forward with conceptual plans to move and replace the Orlando Police Headquarters on Hughey Street, which is 30 years old. In this years budget we have committed $1.5 million dollars for design work on a new public safety complex.

Protecting our citizens is the core business of our city and I am committed to developing a comprehensive public safety complex with state of the art technology to provide our police officers with the tools they need to protect us.

Second, while we have advised all of the social services groups that the city has traditionally funded that they may face a cut in their budgets, I rejected that avenue as a way to balance next year’s budget and advised Management, Budget and Accounting to go back to the drawing board. Why is it that when there is an economic downturn governments traditionally cut the very services people need when they are out of work? If our City Council adopts this budget we will not follow that trend.

Using funds which are available to us as a result of the Orlando Police Department’s work over the years in confiscating contraband, forfeitures and stolen property, we will maintain funding at the 02-03 levels for the Arnold Palmer Hospital-Sexual Trauma Recovery Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, the Center for Drug Free Living, the Center for Independence, Technology and Education, the Central Florida Police Athletic League, the Children’s Home Society, the Christian Service Center, the Coalition for the Homeless, Community Care for Children, Community Services Network, Consumer Credit Counseling Service, the Devereux Foundation, Guardian Care, Harbor House, Legal Aid Society, Metropolitan Orlando Urban League, Quest, Salvation Army, Seniors First, Inc., Share the Care, Shepherd’s Hope, and the Stepping Stone Foundation.

We have also maintained funding for the Economic Development Commission. These economic times have further illuminated our dependence on our tourism-based economy. We must find a way to create family wage jobs and diversify our economy and now is the time to do it! The EDC is one of the tools we need to use in that effort. The budget I submit today maintains funding for the EDC at 02-03 levels.

As I have already pointed out, in these difficult economic times African Americans and Hispanics face unique challenges as they pursue the American Dream right here in Orlando. Government must play a role in helping our neighbors help themselves. Today, the budget I am proposing calls for a 50% increase over last year for the Black Business Investment Fund and the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund. Both of these programs help our struggling small businesses flourish and prosper. Now is the time to make this investment in both of these programs.

During tough economic times governments look to cut repair and replacement funds and to do away with any dollars for capital construction. After meeting with and listening to my cabinet and your city commissioners and hearing their recommendations, it became clear to me that to put off repair, replacement and capitol construction would set our city back… not move us forward. I ran for Mayor because I want our city to move forward, I did not run for Mayor in order to preside over the demise of our city.

While unemployment is high, interest rates are at an all time low. With that in mind, I will ask the City Council to authorize the sale of $25 million dollars in bonds to fund and complete our City’s capital construction needs for the next 24 months. We live in a time when I can safely say that these projects will not get any cheaper to build, nor will the cost of borrowing money ever be as cheap.

It is time to stop talking about new pools at the Northwest Community Center and the Smith Center. It is time to actually build those pools! The citizens of Rosemont and College Park need, want and have waited for new community centers. We need to move forward and build those centers. We need to complete the revitalization and renovation of Lake Eola. And we need to have the matching funds available to maintain our commitment on the Hope VI project in Parramore. We must address the recreational needs of the families who live in Ivey Lane and Rock Lake. We need to keep Orlando moving forward and we can do so by being smart and taking advantage of market conditions in these difficult economic times.

We will take $5 million dollars from the Utility Tax Fund and maintain our commitment to things like curb ramp and brick street replacements, park signage replacement, neighborhood traffic management and sidewalk replacements. Under this plan all of our renovation and replacement needs will be met for this 2003-2004 budget year.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I have asked Bill Sublette to chair the Mayors Education Action Group. One of the challenges that the committee faces is finding a solution to providing additional pre-K classes in the city of Orlando. Early childhood education is critical to the development of our children and their ability to excel academically later in their lives. Today, there are 12 pre-k classrooms in Orlando. In the budget I will submit to the City Commission today, I have requested $200,000 for the Orlando Pre-K initiative and I am committed to raising an additional $200,000 from private sources. In addition, the Orange County School Readiness Coalition has already pledged $100,000 to our efforts. These funds which total more than $500,000 will allow us to enter into a partnership with the Orange County School Board to increase the number of pre-k classrooms by almost 50%, taking the number of classrooms from 12 to at least 17 Pre-K classrooms in Orlando…classrooms which will be located in the neediest areas of our city. The first two new classrooms will be ready in September with additional classrooms coming on line during the course of the year.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am able to make these recommendations today because of the difficult and prudent decisions this council has made these past few months. While other cities like Fort Lauderdale face devastating budget issues and questions your city commissioners and Mayor have wrestled with these issues since the 25th of February and I am happy to report that we are ahead of the curve. The Capitol markets recognize that this administration is committed to a prudent fiscal policy and a willingness to make the tough and necessary decisions in an effort to keep our budget balanced during these difficult economic times.

We are 153 days into building the great city I challenged all of us to envision on the steps of City Hall in February. Today, with the submission of this budget we maintain our course towards that end in the face of the daunting economic times we live in.

Fellow City Council members, Florida Statue Section 166.241 requires that I present you with a balanced budget of $589,987,149 (five hundred and eighty nine million, nine hundred eighty seven thousand, one hundred forty nine dollars). Today I am proud to do just that. At 10:00 this morning Rob Garner, our Director of Management, Budget and Accounting, will take you through the specifics of the budget in a workshop, which will be televised on Orange TV this evening. We will, again, have a workshop on the budget on Monday, August 4th. On September 15th and September 28th the City Council will conduct a public hearing on the budget starting at 5:00 PM on both days and those hearings will be held here in City Council Chambers.

Thank you for your time and attention and thank you for your confidence and support these past few months.

July 19, 2004
City Hall

Thank you Commissioner Page.

Welcome to those of you in the audience today and a special welcome to those of you at home.

As required by statute today, I present to the Orlando City Council a budget for fiscal year 2004-2005, which begins on October 1, 2004, and runs through September 30, 2005.

Today marks my second budget presentation and follows, as it did last year, on the heels of a week we like to call budget camp, which is a series of hearings and presentations by each of the city departments to the City Council. This budget week gives our council the opportunity to examine spending levels by each department and to provide the fiscal oversight mandated by their selection as your representative on this city council.

These hearings and presentations were done here in our city council chambers last week, and they were open to the public and rebroadcast on Orange TV.

This marks the second budget in which our city council members have had the opportunity to quiz the executive departments which report to the Mayor on their spending habits, and to question whether or not each department is making progress on their mission or charge. And this process will remain in place as long as I am your Mayor. Both the City Council and those of you at home should always have the opportunity to examine and question how tax dollars are being spent.

Over the last 16 months, I am grateful that at different junctures, when given the opportunity, this City Council has implemented a series of recommendations and city policy changes that have brought to bear many of the financial rules and policies that exist in the private sector.

We have created a Finance Committee, which is providing financial oversight and advice to ensure that the city’s finances are properly managed. This committee is made up of one commissioner, Commissioner Diamond, your Mayor and three citizens from our community. We have implemented a policy setting requirements for the reserves the City could maintain, and we have outlined why that policy is needed to keep our great city in good financial stead both here and on Wall Street. We require all city managers to examine their budgets on a monthly basis and require that they stay within budget and make the necessary adjustments to do just that. And for the first time in our city’s history, we are doing budget projections far out in the future to plan what our city can afford today and tomorrow.

I would like to be able to report to you today that all these new policies will produce new revenue, but as you all know the adjustments we have made simply allow us to manage the revenue we receive in the most prudent fashion possible. And we are doing just that.

With all the new policies and procedures, with all the belt tightening and staff reductions that we have made, we still face challenges. Past reductions have changed our ratio of employees from 19 city staff per 1,000 residents in 1994 to 15 city staff per 1,000 residents in 2005. That’s the good news.

However, last week if you had sharpened your pencils and kept score as each department reported their budgets, expenditures and our projected revenues, you would have reached the alarming conclusion that our expected expenditures exceed our expected revenues by almost $27 million.

After months of examination and budget cutting, our city faces the same challenges that all cities across America and our state are facing.

  • Fifteen percent increases in health care costs
  • Poor market performance driving our pension costs up
  • Labor contracts negotiated during the boom years of the 90’s but coming due during this economic downturn
  • Homeland Security expenditures required as a result of the times we live in

As I mentioned, Orlando is not alone in facing this challenge. Miami recently announced a projected budget shortfall of $59 million. New Port Richey announced a budget shortfall of $6.7 million, Apopka is considering a property tax increase for the first time in a decade in order to meet their needs, and the list goes on and on. News from the around the country isn’t any better as it relates to cities as Los Angeles recently announced that they were facing a $300 million deficit.

All of these cities face the same challenges we do…a health care system with double-digit increases, pensions that need to be maintained and managed in a prudent fashion during a period of poor market performance…and the cost of living in a world that has changed drastically since September 11, 2001.

Because of the difficult decisions that we made last year, Orlando is ahead of most cities that are now facing tax increases and a reduction in services.

We have made every effort to trim and cut, to do more with less, in order to provide the services our citizens deserve.

Today I submit to you a balanced budget that represents almost six months of work and creative thinking on how to restructure our city services and finances in order to meet our obligations and close the projected budget gap for next year.

For a second straight year, I have rejected the siren calls to raise property taxes in order to balance this budget. Many have suggested that given the economic times we live in we should at least increase the millage rate to the level it was at prior to the reduction proposed by Mayor Hood in 2001 and adopted by this council.

But I believe, through continued implementation of sound management practices, we can achieve a balanced budget for 2004-2005 without raising property taxes. I will caution this council and our citizens that if market conditions do not improve, if we as a nation do not come to grips with the spiraling costs of our health care system, if at the federal level we do not recognize that in order to protect the homeland our cities need the resources to operate as the front line of defense in our war on terror, I cannot promise that I will return to this City Council chamber and submit a balanced budget to you next July for 2005-2006 without new revenue sources being identified in order to meet our obligations.

Recently Fort Lauderdale announced that they would eliminate 42 sworn police officers in an effort to cure their budget woes.

I can promise this council that at no time during the course of our administration here at City Hall we will waiver in our commitment to our public safety budgets, our police officers and our firefighters, nor will I ask you to cut these budgets in an effort to balance our city’s budget.

Last year we were able to add 13 new firefighters to your fire department. As you heard from Chief Bowman this past week, our city will need new firehouses in the new neighborhoods of our growing city like Lake Nona and Baldwin Park. We are taking the approach that new growth in our city should pay for itself. With that in mind, I can report to you that I will be bring to this Council in the coming months commitments to not only provide land for new stations, but through developer agreements a commitment on the behalf of developers to build the new stations we need.

Working within existing budgets we will staff these new facilities and provide the fire services that these neighborhoods deserve.

This year, while additions to our budget are few and far between, I am happy to report to you today that contained in our budget is the addition of 8 new sworn police officers and 1 new lieutenant for our Parramore neighborhood. With Commissioner Lynum leading the way, we will provide her with the tools she needs to make Parramore the shining star in our galaxy of neighborhoods. What we will not do is listen to those who would suggest that Parramore isn’t as bad as it used to be…because it is clear to all us that Parramore isn’t as great as it can be.

When adopted, this budget and city council will send a clear message to those who would sell drugs and destroy lives in this neighborhood…your days are numbered if you are operating in the Parramore neighborhood.

And we will increase our vigilance as it relates to code enforcement issues in this neighborhood.

Today I am asking you for two additional code enforcement officers for Parramore in order to root out and prosecute code violators in this neighborhood…if this were a basketball game, I can tell you here today that my charge to Mike Rhodes, our Director of Code Enforcement, is to put a full court press on code violations and code violators in Parramore. These new code enforcement officers will be vigilant, persistent and their presence will create a more livable Parramore neighborhood.

We, as a city, will not tolerate buildings in disrepair and families facing lives in rental units that are inadequate by any standard of decency. If you operate a rental unit and it is in disrepair, fix it…or face the consequences. I am committed to making The City Beautiful just that…for all of our neighborhoods.

Today I am submitting to you a budget that maintains our commitment to our new community centers in Rosemont and College Park, the new pool at the Smith Center, an addition for Dover Park, improvements at Barker Park and the additional projects that we approved in the last budget when we made the decision to take advantage of market conditions and create a two-year capital construction improvement package for our neighborhoods.

As I submit this budget to you today I want to again, as I did last year, thank our city employees and point out the incredible job they do for our citizens…they love their jobs and this city. Even in these difficult economic times we cannot ask our city employees to go year-to-year without a salary increase and so again this year my budget recommendation is for a 2 percent increase across the board for our city employees.

As contracts run their course, all employees need to know and understand that it is at my direction that all wage increases must mirror the 2 percent that we are providing for our employees across the board whether you are in a collective bargaining unit or not.

In an effort to balance our budget without raising property taxes, we have restructured our utility enterprise funds so they will provide our city general fund with a dividend from time-to-time, much like the dividend we receive annually from OUC. This year the dividend from utility enterprise funds is $6.3 million, dollars that we will use to close the budget gap and still maintain the reserves we need in each of these funds.

This year our risk management fund will produce dividends of $2.6 million as a result of the prudent management of our liabilities.

In an effort to further close the gap, I have asked our cabinet members and day-to-day managers to manage their personnel budgets with extreme acuity and to spend only 97 percent of those budgets in the upcoming fiscal year. At any given time this past fiscal year we had between 150-300 positions unfilled as a result of normal staff attrition and with prudent management our managers will be able to maintain service levels, fill open positions in a timely manner and keep the city budget balanced.

Finally, with the adoption of our fiscal management polices relating to our general fund reserves, I am comfortable in including in this budget a recommendation to allocate $7 million from our reserves, leaving our city with a general fund reserve balance of $47 million.

Fellow City Council members, Florida Statue Section 166.241 requires that I present you with a balanced budget of $604,054,499 (six hundred four million, fifty four thousand, four hundred ninety nine dollars). Today I am proud to do just that and at this time I will ask Deborah Girard, our Director of Management, Budget and Accounting, to take you through the specifics of the budget.

On September 13 and September 27, 2004, the City Council will conduct public hearings on the budget starting at 5:01 p.m. on both days and those hearings will be held in City Council Chambers.

Thank You.

July 25, 2005
City Hall

Thank you Commissioner Sheehan for that warm welcome.

Good morning Commissioners. I am here to present to you, the Orlando City Council a budget for fiscal year 2005-2006, which begins on October 1, 2005, and runs through September 30, 2006.

I want to thank and recognize all of the people in the audience and watching at home today for taking the time to be a part of this very important process. Your participation and concern is key to helping us, your elected officials, lead, and manage our City in the best interest of all our citizens.

I would also like to thank our City Commissioners who have spent numerous hours over the past several weeks participating in budget hearings and reviewing volumes of information to ensure the City is maximizing our resources. This administration and this City council have strived to provide citizens with an unprecedented level of access to our budgetary and fiscal information. These hearings were open to the public and broadcast live on Orange TV. In addition, this budget address will be posted on our Web site immediately, and the 2005-2006 adopted budget will be available online for the start of the fiscal year, in October.

Before I address the budget, there is one more group of people that I must recognize for their efforts. They are our frontline City employees… the people that interact with our citizens everyday. They are the face of our City, the men and women who I believe provide the highest level of public services in all of Florida.

They are our accountants and fiscal managers, who work tirelessly to ensure we are the best stewards of citizen tax dollars. They are our public works employees, who keep our streets clean, our water potable, and our City beautiful. They are our permitting employees, who ensure the ease of process when homeowners or developers apply for permits to repair or construct. They are our employees in the Families, Parks and Recreation Department, who maintain our City’s parks, offer after-school programming for our youth, and manage our 116 parks and recreation facilities. They are our police and fire employees, who ensure safe streets, safe homes and secure futures for our children.

Our City departments strategically allocate their resources to ensure every interaction with our citizens exemplifies the pride we have in our work. Every department leader, every employee, is continuously analyzing and seeking efficiencies in City services, and each has played a critical role in presenting you a balanced budget today.

This is the third time I’ve had the opportunity to stand before this Council to propose the City’s budget, and it marks the third year we’ve had to face budget constraints and gaps similar to those of our neighboring cities and cities throughout the nation. As we began this process, growing expenses, including increased healthcare and labor costs, had us facing a potential budget gap of $27 million based on the projected cost to continue services matched with anticipated revenue. Our Office of Management, Budget and Accounting staff has spent months working with City department heads during our budget preparation process to close that gap.

That process includes forecasting expenditures forward at restricted growth rates, forecasting revenues based upon the State of Florida estimates and conducting a 10-year historic analysis of property tax collections. Forecasting is just one of the tools implemented by this administration and Council in January 2004, to better manage our fiscal resources. We have also created a Finance Committee, which Commissioner Diamond is a member of, and which is providing financial oversight and advice. We have implemented a reserve policy setting requirements for the reserves the City should maintain to keep our great city in good financial stead both here and on Wall Street. Most importantly, we require and hold accountable all City managers to examine their budgets on a monthly basis, to stay within budget and to make the necessary adjustments to do just that.

Though we have these tools in place, we still face ongoing challenges that contribute to difficulty in balancing city budgets. For our City, as well as for our residents, we have the increased burden of the aftermath of a very active hurricane season last year, and consistently rising fuel costs. Fortunately, even after the devastating damage left by the storms, I am proud to say that through strong solid fiscal management we were able to maintain our day to day operations, cover the hurricane expenses not reimbursed by the state or FEMA and rebuild our City without further impacting our reserves.

Though there is much work to be done to overcome our challenges, there is also much for this City Council and our citizens to be proud of. Many cities face the threat of businesses leaving their downtown core because of the lack of services, yet we are experiencing an explosive renaissance of business activity and job growth in our downtown and throughout our City. Over the past year the greater Orlando area has lead the state in job growth. In our downtown, nearly $2 billion has been invested in projects proposed or underway. This includes an 5,400 multi-family units, nearly a half-million sq feet in retail space, and 1.3 million sq feet in office space.

While cities such as San Jose, Indianapolis and Jacksonville have been forced to make difficult decisions to decrease services or eliminate staff positions, the City of Orlando has sought better solutions … and thanks to the hard work of our staff and commitment of our revenue partners, we have found better solutions for the 2005-2006 budget year.

We have closed the projected gap of $27 million dollars, without raising taxes, without cutting services or reducing our workforce, and without dipping into reserves. I submit to you a balanced budget that is a reflection of our efforts to control expenses, while actively seeking to increase revenue.

Growth was a part of the solution … with increased growth comes increased property value and revenues. Projections for the 2005-2006 fiscal year show an increase in property tax revenue of approximately $10 million.

We also recognized a greater return from the City’s largest financial asset and partner, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC). OUC has agreed to increase its dividend to the City this year from 60% to 85% of net income, which represents $13.6 million in additional revenues … a major step in closing the projected gap for the 2005-2006 fiscal year. I want to thank our partners, especially Ken Ksionek and the OUC board for their willingness to increase OUC’s return to the citizens of Orlando. I also want to thank them for their commitment to work with the City to identify a formula for a multi-year dividend agreement that will benefit our citizens for years to come.

While this is great news, it must be tempered with the understanding we still have a difficult road ahead of us in identifying additional reoccurring revenue. Projections show that spiraling benefit costs and economic conditions will still cause our ongoing expenditures to outpace current revenue.

As traditional revenue streams become stagnant, we will seek out innovative revenue sources for the new economy. These include cutting-edge telecommunications, WiFi and broadband initiatives intended to leverage CRA money to generate general revenue - funds that can be used for improvement projects and City services throughout all of our neighborhoods, not just within the CRA.

Furthermore, we are reviewing fees in the Economic Development Department, including permitting, planning and code enforcement. These fees must be assessed appropriately to ensure the City’s processing costs, are adequately covered. At the same time, this study will help us ensure we are offering the most effective and efficient services to both citizens and businesses.

Commissioners, this City is dedicated to maximizing resources to ensure the services that touch our citizen’s lives will remain at the level they have come to expect. This year’s budget requests are focused on providing the tools, the technology, and the training that give citizens a sense of pride and place in the unique and distinctive neighborhoods in which they live.

Even in this lean budget year, the public safety of our citizens remains at the forefront of this Council’s priorities. I am asking for your approval of these vital elements for our public safety professionals:

1) Approximately $800,000 for new recruit training that will help increase our effective strength, officers on the street, by 15 positions.

2) Approximately $500,000 for the maintenance of 48 additional police vehicles, and this will complete the implementation of the vehicle take-home program for police officers.

3) Funding for replacement body armor, service weapons, and for new computers in police cars.

4) $300,000 for the design of the Savannah Park Fire Station in the South East part of our City.

5) $350,000 for extrication equipment, fire hose replacements, fire fighting gear, thermal imaging cameras, and onboard computer replacements for our fire trucks.

6) In the area of Emergency Management, we’ve included a request of $100,000 to be used to match FEMA mitigation funds specifically to retrofit buildings used during hurricane emergencies.

To improve our neighborhoods, I’m recommending that each commissioner have increased flexibility to use their traffic-calming funds totaling $600,000 on projects that extend beyond roadways to include sidewalks, stormwater and green space. Commissioners know their neighborhoods’ immediate needs and should have the ability to immediately address those needs … it’s all about customer service. I’m also asking you to approve:

7) $2.6 million in the proposed budget for pedestrian safety projects, including a school safety sidewalk program, sidewalk repair throughout the City and funding for pavement rehabilitation.

8) $2 million for new traffic signals to improve the flow of traffic on our City’s busy roads.

As we focus on improving City services and quality of life amenities, I’m asking for the approval of:

9) Three additional positions in our economic development department to expedite plan review and to assist with code enforcement administration.

10) And, one that will bring a smile to all of your faces is a proposal for full funding of operations and maintenance is also included for the recently opened Airport Lakes Park and Rock Lake Neighborhood Center. Additionally, funding of operations is allocated for Rosemont Community Center opening in September, Ivey Lane Park in October and the College Park Community Center, which will open in December.

The tools, the training and the technology requested in this budget, reflect our priorities for the City of Orlando; and with no doubt, these proposed additions will build community pride, strengthen confidence in our public safety entities, and enhance the quality of life in all of our distinctive neighborhoods.

Fellow City Council members, Florida Statute Section 166.241 requires that I present you with a balanced budget, and I give that to you in the amount of $681,415,629.00 (Six hundred eighty one million, four hundred fifteen thousand, six hundred twenty nine dollars). Today, I am proud to do just that and at this time I will ask Deborah Girard, our Director of Management, Budget and Accounting, to take you through the specifics of the budget.

On September 12th and September 19th, 2005, the City Council will conduct public hearings on the budget starting at 5:01 p.m. on both days and those hearings will be held here in City Council Chambers.

Commissioners, once again, I’d like to thank you for your commitment to fiscal responsibility and your dedication to the citizens of Orlando. Thank you very much and I now call on Deborah Girard.

July 24, 2006
City Hall

Good morning,

Commissioners. I am here to present you, the Orlando City Council, a balanced budget for fiscal year 2006-2007, which begins on October 1, 2006, and runs through September 30, 2007.

To our residents and constituents who have joined us here this morning and those watching at home … thank you. The subject of finances and policies is not always the most exciting topic, but it is definitely one of the most important. We appreciate that you are involved in this budgetary process through your presence here today.

Commissioners, each year you are asked to spend considerable time reviewing information related to our City’s budget. In the past few weeks, we’ve participated in numerous presentations that were open to the public. I want to applaud you for tackling that project head on.

Getting us to this point where I can present you with this budget, would not be possible without considerable work by our dedicated City employees. Representing every office and department, they act as our frontline…gathering information we need to make sound financial decisions, exemplifying good customer service, and making recommendations that befit a world-class city. Their work does not go unnoticed and I want to thank them for their commitment.

Please note … this budget includes the pay and benefit increases from three-year contracts that we have negotiated with the various unions that represent our City staff.

I want to specifically thank our City’s Chief Financial Officer, Rebecca Sutton; Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Ray Elwell; and their team for working through the details of this year’s budget. This is a huge task and I appreciate the dedication they have shown through this process.

It is hard to believe that this is the fourth time I’ve presented City Council with an annual budget. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen that our financial outlook is very different this year than when I took office in 2003. It has not been an easy road; however we have met and overcome challenges such as rising healthcare and labor costs, hurricane damage and rising fuel costs. For the past three years, though faced with recurring financial gaps, we were able to balance the budget without raising taxes thanks to a new forecasting process that helps us plan for the future. Our City managers’ are dedicated to managing their budgets to remain “in the black”, ensuring that we get the best return on our investment from city assets. And, the creation and guidance of a Finance Committee has provided us with valuable financial oversight and advice.

By making some difficult decisions and with City Council’s dedication to that process, we have righted the City’s financial ship, and put our financial future back on track. And, we have done so after making a deliberate and careful decision not to raise our millage rate.

Through all of this, our City Council and City staff have established an environment where we will not tolerate unjustified spending or inefficient services. We’ve recognized that our citizens deserve better and we have given it to them. I commit to you today – now that our budget is back on track – we will remain on this course as long as I hold this office.

We get to build on the solid foundation we have laid. We are not going to talk about financial deficits or filling gaps, but … thanks to a growing tax base … we are focused on finding the best way to invest an unexpected increase in ad valorem revenue.

I want to point out, that this budget also includes a dividend from OUC in the amount of $45,700,000, which represents 80 percent of their projected net income. Traditionally, OUC has provided the City with 60 percent of its net earnings, and I want to thank them for this additional commitment.

We are moving ahead, but we are doing so cautiously and with careful consideration. The recommendations I’m making today, are not done lightly. It is our responsibility to ensure that revenue is used to make sure that the most critical services that affect our citizens daily lives are enhanced.

The budget presented is about learning from our past, securing our future and preparing for our City’s continued growth. Therefore, I am asking for your approval to fund projects in key areas.

First…Public Safety

From the day I took office, public safety has been my number one priority. This City Council has been supportive of that goal time and time again. In my first budget address, when we reduced the size of our City government by 7 percent we remained committed to public safety by adding personnel. Last year, when budgets were tight, we provided $1.7 million for tools, technology and training needed by our police and fire departments. With this year’s fortunate growth in ad valorem revenue, we need to maintain our commitment to public safety.

Our community continues to experience tremendous growth, and we must enhance the strength and force of our City police and fire departments in order to meet and respond to the challenges the City faces today, and will face in the future.

Therefore, I am proposing a three-year, comprehensive Public Safety initiative to increase the effective strength of our police officers and fire personnel by 11 percent.

This multi-year program will also dedicate bondable revenue to capital improvements resulting in more than $65 million in public safety projects. Specifically, I am asking that we devote $12.1 million dollars this year and $17.9 million dollars each year thereafter to protect our citizens and visitors by funding:

  • 75 additional police officers to patrol our neighborhoods and protect our children and seniors;
  • Two detectives in the violent crimes section of our Investigative Bureau;
  • Three new fire stations with 45 new fire personnel;
  • The addition of two police sub-stations to serve the southeast and southwest parts of our City;
  • Construction of a state-of-the-art, OPD training center that would ensure our officers get the most up-to-date training;
  • Installation of a new high-tech, digital communication system that will soon be the standard around Orange County and will allow all of our region’s public safety departments to communicate;
  • And, 13 new communication specialists who are the first people our citizens talk to in an emergency situation.

This safety initiative also includes money to help safeguard our community’s legacy of investing in families, parks and recreation. Over the past two years, a long list of new recreation centers and park beautification projects have been completed across every district in this City. First, I am proposing that we protect these valuable assets by funding two OPD community service officers dedicated to patrolling our parks. These funds would also be used to add part-time security guards at three of our recreational facilities where they could assist residents and maintain the quality of those centers.

Second, I am asking for your approval of funding to help safeguard our City’s “crown jewel” … Lake Eola. This money would allow us to upgrade our staff to “Park Rangers” giving them more authority to do their job and maintain the quality of that park.

And, third…something that has been discussed more than once on this Council…graffiti. Graffiti attracts other forms of crime and street delinquency to our City neighborhoods. I am proposing that we expand the Keep Orlando Beautiful program by dedicating a staff member to establish a graffiti reduction initiative. The goal of that initiative would be to educate youth and adults about preventing and reducing graffiti and provide tools and resources, such as graffiti removal kits, to businesses and residents.

Together, these public safety projects will allow us to continue to offer our residents the highest quality urban services. In fact, they will help our Orlando Fire Department attain its first-ever ISO rating of “1” and allow our OPD officers to become more integrated into the neighborhoods they serve.

The next area we need to focus on is Economic Development.

We have taken a hard look at the increasing demand being placed on the Economic Development Department due to the growth happening across our City. We want to ensure that we provide the highest-level of customer service, so a homeowner doing a renovation or business owner opening a new store is served quickly and efficiently.

I am proposing close to a million dollars be dedicated from this budget to add seven new code-enforcement officers, making up a task force to address violations in apartments and condominium complexes as we see more of these projects come online…five new city planners, allowing that department to refocus on sustainable, long range activities rather than just meeting short term needs…and eight new permitting staff, assuring our level of customer service remains high as our City continues to grow.

The budget also includes funding for important business development projects such as a Neighborhood Commercial District Revitalization Program that would enhance retail and shopping areas in every commissioner’s district.

I am also proposing we fund an Enterprise Center in Commissioner Wyman’s district that would help young companies grow and prosper.

Finally, a new program we’ve discussed that will assist minority and woman owned for-profit small businesses is being launched. Called the Minority/Women Entrepreneurs Business Assistance program or MEBA, this initiative is starting with a pilot program in Parramore this year and will be funded through our downtown CRA.

The third area we want to focus on is Public Works.

Public Works is certainly not the most glamorous subject or the area of City government that garners the most headlines. Although, it certainly houses those services that directly impact the day-to-day lives of our citizens … from providing well-maintained roads; to constructing new parks and green spaces; to ensuring that systems are in place to reduce flooding in our neighborhoods.

Today, I am proposing several projects that are critical to the long-term sustainability of our City and the core infrastructure on which it is built.

First, 32 Wastewater Capital Projects have been submitted for the 06/07 fiscal year. These projects represent a five year cost of $140 million. As was discussed during our recent “budget camp”, these funds will be paid through our Wastewater Enterprise Fund and will not be paid out of the general fund.

Examples include updating our downtown sewer system, some of which was built in the 1920s and 30s and needs to be upgraded to handle the significant development happening downtown. We will also install sewers in some of our neighborhoods still served by septic tanks and provide those areas with a more reliable, environmentally friendly means of wastewater service.

Our public works department will complete construction of the Parramore Stormwater Treatment Facility at a cost of $1.5 million. This will allow a million dollars worth of work to begin on the first phase of the Parramore Heritage Central Park and lead to our downtown having a new jewel…a park to enhance the Parramore neighborhood’s quality of life and help attract new economic development investment to the west side of I-4. Work will also begin on developing the City green spaces in Baldwin Park. This includes extension of the Blue Jacket Park, construction of the Harbor Park and extending the trail system around Lake Baldwin and Lake Susannah. These projects will be done in three phases and will cost a total of $4 million.

In the world of transportation, I am proposing continued support of METROPLAN ORLANDO, our region’s metropolitan planning organization. I am also proposing that we contribute $4.5 million to LYNX, our nationally-recognized transportation authority, as well as $1.6 million to the continued operation of the downtown Lymmo service. Our region’s continued growth relies on our commitment to supporting these valuable mass transit options.


Commissioners, this budget represents a defining moment. For the past several years, we have been faced with significant budget constraints. Now that we stabilized our financial condition, we have the opportunity to consider enhancements to our services.

Over the coming year, there will be other monetary decisions that we will need to make for projects like the community venues and commuter rail. I cannot express to you how important these projects would be for the City of Orlando and our region. These are decisions that will benefit our citizens for generations and will help define who we are as a community.

A region’s quality of life, transportation infrastructure, public safety organizations, education system and economic vitality are what make it a great place to live, work, play and learn.

Left neglected, they can erode a city and region’s foundation if its leaders don’t prioritize maintaining and strengthening these assets.

I look forward to working on these important initiatives with you over the coming year.

Fellow City Council members, Florida Statute Section 166.241 requires that I present you with a balanced budget, and I give that to you in the amount of $801,856,319 (eight hundred one million eight hundred fifty six thousand three hundred nineteen). I repeat … for the fourth year, this budget does NOT include an increase in the millage rate which is currently 5.6916.

On September 11th and 18th, 2006, the City Council will conduct public hearings on the budget starting at 5:01 p.m. on both days and those hearings will be held here in City Council Chambers.

Once approved, the adopted budget will be online for the new fiscal year that starts this October. This budget address will also be posted on our Web site immediately.

Commissioners, thank you for your service to our residents and for maintaining your commitment to fiscal responsibility. I look forward to the year ahead, and the great things we will accomplish as a City.

June 16, 2007
City Hall

I am here today to present the guidelines for our balanced budget for 2007-2008.

Today’s workshop is an overview of our priorities in developing a budget that will mirror the bold and ambitious budget course you approved last year…

Our budget will ensure our City remains committed:

  • To Public safety
  • To Economic Opportunity and quality job growth
  • To Efficient and accountable core City services
  • To Promoting a “culture of conservation”; and
  • To Providing leadership in the effort to protect the environment

Last year’s budget was a “defining moment” for our City.

This year’s budget is about sustaining and advancing the success we’ve worked so hard to achieve… even as we face new challenges.

Commissioners, I’d like to thank you for your continued commitment to making fiscally responsible decisions.

I’d also like to thank our dedicated City employees.  This year, their input will be essential as we find ways to be more efficient.

I want to recognize our City’s CFO, Rebecca Sutton, Deputy CFO Ray Elwell and the entire Finance department for their efforts in this process.

Our budget team made sure we were well-informed and extremely well-prepared for the budgetary challenges resulting from state-mandated property tax reform.

Changes and Challenges – A Fiscal History of Orlando

This is the fifth time I’ve presented the City Council with an annual budget.

It’s vital that I recognize this milestone.  Our current financial picture is a direct result of the prudent decisions we’ve made together in the last four years.

In 2003, this administration inherited a mid-year, 23 million dollar budget shortfall.  In the face of this record deficit, we were forced to take difficult, but necessary, steps to streamline City operations and downsize our workforce.  In the first 30 days of our administration, we balanced the budget and placed public safety as our top priority.

In 2004 and 2005 we, again, faced budget constraints along with the majority of cities in Florida.  We closed gaps while rejecting calls to raise taxes and cut core city services.  We sought better solutions and looked for ways to increase revenue by bolstering growth and investment in our City.

We reaffirmed our commitment to public safety by devoting new revenue for tools, technology and training for police and fire.

Last year, rather than talk about filling gaps, we enhanced our core City services.  We unveiled creative programs and initiatives.

  • Our first job was to boost our investment in public safety.  We approved a three-year initiative to increase the strength of police and fire with 75 police officers and 45 fire personnel.  We initiated our plan to build a state of the art police training center and 3 new fire stations.
  • We enhanced our core public works services and City infrastructure by updating our aging downtown sewer system, targeting graffiti and building new roads and sidewalks.
  • We added permitting and planning staff, further strengthening our commitment to smart growth.

These initiatives were the culmination of four years of hard work and careful planning by this City Council.  It represented a hard-won financial victory.

Our belt tightening and forward-thinking approach paid dividends.

This year, we will maintain our financial stability in the face of a new challenge:  state-mandated budget cuts.

In June, the state legislature delivered much needed property tax relief to our residents.

That action places Orlando in what’s being called “Tier One” status, representing the lowest level of property tax revenue reduction mandated among cities and counties.

Tier one status calls for a three percent rollback in property tax revenue.

The State’s formula recognizes our prudent financial decision making.

We are not one of those cities facing a 7 or 9 percent reduction in revenue, left with little or no choice but to slash jobs and city services.

But, it doesn’t mean we are free from the impacts of state-mandated revenue reduction; so we must carefully budget to ensure our City’s future economic health.

Coupled with property tax reform and a dip in our sales tax revenue, our income picture is essentially flat from last year to this year.

The question we will begin to answer today is – how do we meet this new budget challenge while maintaining our commitment to public safety and continuing to deliver quality urban services?

We’ll start by laying out a budget process in a different manner than in the past.

Typically, the City creates its budget and then sets the millage rate to reflect that budget.

This year, the state has essentially set our millage rate for us – meaning – we now have to work backwards.

Today I will ask you to approve a preliminary millage rate that reflects the stated-mandated formula.

Our budget office has accurate revenue estimates right up to this week and they will review those numbers in a few minutes.

I have asked staff to craft our final budget using a set of carefully considered guiding principles.

The four guiding parameters and priorities are: 

First, maintain our commitment to public safety

Second, focus on our core City services

Third, find efficiencies

Fourth, Go Green, use our City’s new green initiative as a way to save money and the environment.

While we’re essentially proposing a continuation budget, we will fully fund our commitment to growth in public safety without a reduction in the level of City services.

Public Safety:  Priority Number One

Public Safety continues to be job one.

We will keep our City safe, no matter what it takes – using every resource available to combat crime in our community.

The first tenet of this budget is to ensure that year two of our multi-year, multimillion dollar public safety initiative is fully funded.

Last year we dedicated 66 million dollars toward projects that put additional police on the streets, substations in our neighborhoods, more fire and rescue units on our roads and more fire stations in our districts.

We must hold true to our commitment.

We’re already seeing the results of our investment:

  • Our illegal gun bounty program is taking illegal guns off the street.
  • “Operation All Hands on Deck” puts police managers, men and women who do not typically work on the street on patrol in targeted high crime areas.
  • And, we’re implementing key recommendations from our SAFE Orlando Task Force

Keeping people safe is our mission.  We will not fail.

Back to Basics:  A Focus on Core City Services

Our second major budget priority is the delivery of quality urban services and dedication to accessible, accountable and transparent government.

With a continuation budget, we are maintaining our focus on what we do best:  deliver core services that enhance the lives of our citizens

These aren’t always the flashiest areas – but they are the backbone of effective local government:

  • Paving Roads, filling potholes and building sidewalks
  • Installing and maintaining street lights
  • Providing top notch sewer service, picking up garbage and sweeping streets

My pledge today is that Orlando will not falter in its commitment to providing excellence in these services areas.

Directive to Find Efficiencies

Our third budget priority is to find efficiencies and trim our costs to bring our budget in-line with the growth we will experience.

We performed a similar process during our 2003 budget program.  This year, we will build upon proven strategies to help sharpen our “culture of conservation” in all City departments.

Our plan is not to capture savings through cutting one or two notable expenditures.

Our plan will utilize a multifaceted approach focusing on:  Efficiency, innovation and attrition to meet our budget challenges.

Our plan will require daily action.  Our most important asset, our employees, will find simple yet effective ways to increase savings.

We are already seeing suggestions that will be considered as part of our plan.

They include everything from allowing employees to voluntarily shift their schedules… to cutting out paper in favor of electronic communication.

Since 2003, we’ve made strides in reinventing the way we serve citizens, making it faster and more convenient to do business online.

We continue to use technology to make our government run more efficiently and cost effectively.

The final efficiency measure is attrition.  At any given time we have 150 to 200 unfilled positions as a result of normal attrition.

With continued prudent personnel management, we will maintain City services by keeping some of these positions open.  And, this efficiency provides a cost savings to the City.

Orlando’s Green Initiative:  Saving Money and the Environment

Fourth and finally, we will launch our environmental action agenda to transform Orlando into a leading “Florida Green City.”

It’s not only the right thing to do, but a sound decision for our citizens’ well-being and our financial future.

This is immediate and dramatic action.

We’re already converting our stop lights and street signals from incandescent bulbs to LED’s.  LED’s use 80 percent less energy.  When complete, it will mean a savings of more than 27-thousand dollars a month.

By the end of next year, our entire City fleet will “go green”.  We’ve already implemented a policy that all new automobiles and light trucks will be flex-fuel vehicles.  In 2008, all heavy trucks and off-road equipment that we purchase, the vehicles with the biggest engines that pollute the most, must meet the highest emission standards.

Most people think cars are the biggest contributors to pollution and global warming.

They’re not, buildings are, because of the tremendous amount of energy they require.

We will provide the leadership and expertise necessary to engage developers and businesses in acquiring the national standard of green … what’s known as “LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.”

We will be the spark for a sustainable building trend in Orlando.  OUC’s new administration building will be one of downtown's "greenest" developments with the latest in high tech conservation and energy efficient features.

Together with OUC and Orange County, we are also studying the feasibility of using municipal solid waste as a renewable energy source.

Last week, our City participated in the State summit on global climate change.  The message from that event is clear:  We’re on the front lines.  We must use our leadership position in central Florida to further the green effort.

I’m excited to announce today that Orlando will sign the United States Conference of Mayors Climate protection agreement as part of our green package.  We will join with other cities nationwide who have pledged to do their part in helping our environment.

These are just a few facets of a sweeping plan that will help save our environment and save money.


We’ve talked about our budget history and how far we’ve come in just a few years.

I’d like to close today, by talking about the future.

Earlier his month, I had the opportunity to showcase Orlando to a national TV audience on the CBS early show.  It was about where we’re headed as a city… our theme parks, our downtown and the people and the places that make our home so special.

I told all of America that Orlando is a great place to visit… but it’s an even better place to live.

Fulfilling that promise of greatness begins with the process of putting together a balanced budget.  It’s more than just addition and subtraction.  It’s a map for our future highlighting our priorities and promises.

I’m proud to present a budget directive today that:

  • Makes careful and balanced choices
  • Maintains our commitment to public safety and core city services
  • And, keeps Orlando on course to becoming the next great American city of this new century

Thank you.


July 21, 2008
City Hall


Good Morning Commissioners,

Usually I give a budget address that tells you all of the new things we’re investing in for our community.

This year is different.

We are facing a 30 million dollar budget gap caused by a decrease in sales tax, an increase in energy costs, an increase in the cost of employee healthcare and state-imposed revenue reductions because of amendment one.

So, we are essentially proposing a continuation budget with the exception of our public safety initiative.

Even so, we still face a gap we must overcome.

Commissioners, with your input and guidance, we are recommending a plan to meet our budget challenge.

It’s a sensible and strategic solution that will:

Keep us safe

Maintain our high quality of life

Create opportunities for our families to succeed …

And still give a vast majority of residents a reduction in their property tax bill … even in these challenging economic times.

The focus of our budget recommendation is Orlando’s families.

As our national economy slumps, Orlando’s families struggle with the rising cost of gas, food, healthcare and other daily expenses.

When families budget during trying times, they look for creative ways to save a buck wherever they can.

But, at the same time, our families also have projects they’ve started… and long term goals to accomplish.

Our families know that they must balance the needs of today with the goals of tomorrow.

The same holds true for our City.

Just like local families, our City government must make sacrifices and tough choices to bring our budget in-line today …  while still investing in the future and ensuring Orlando stays on track for a better and more prosperous tomorrow.

That’s precisely what our plan accomplishes.

The strategy I am recommending today includes a combination of the following:

1.     Cuts to City services

2.     Efficiency measures

3.     A withdrawal from our reserves

4.     And, a modest adjustment of the millage rate that is lower than the rate for the past two decades … a rate that reduces the property tax bill for more than 70 percent of our homeowners

The first part of our plan is a top to bottom review of all our city services and programs to find areas where we can save money by making strategic cuts and budget reductions.

This is NOT “cutting the fat”, as the saying goes.

Since 2002, our City has cut costs at nearly every opportunity.

We eliminated more than 250 jobs in 2003.

Every year since then, we have increased our service levels… and decreased the cost to residents for those services. 

Today we have fewer employees per citizen then we did 10 years ago.

We are doing more with less.

Our finance department will present this historical overview in greater detail – later this morning.

But, the short version is – there wasn’t that much left to cut.

Our plan includes some difficult choices:

  • Eliminating all holiday bonuses for City employees.
  • Reducing our landscaping and mowing schedules city-wide to as low a level as possible.
  • Slashing our training and travel budget for all city employees by 15 percent.
  • Closing community and recreation centers with low usage on Saturdays.
  • Reducing all holiday decorations by half.
  • Reducing the Fire Department’s public outreach budget by 50 percent.  This means cutting health checks for seniors, health fairs, school presentations and smoke detector checks.
  • The Mayor’s office is not exempt.  At the highest level of the organization, I am eliminating a director level position from my cabinet and another management position.

These are just some of the savings measures we have identified.

Rebecca and Ray will provide more examples and greater detail.

When you look at these cuts you understand the difficult decisions we must make.

But, all of these items we have targeted are important – and the absence of each will be felt both here at City Hall among our staff and in our community.

The second part of our plan involves continuing to use the efficiency packages we identified last year – with the inclusion of new efficiency measures developed this year.

  • This includes a challenge to departments to reduce our fuel consumption citywide by 10 percent.
  • We are examining what we outsource with the aim of bringing more in-house to more efficiently serve residents.
  • Also, all vacancies will be re-examined before being filled.

These department-wide service cuts and efficiencies will help bridge about 14 million dollars of our gap.

That still leaves a sizeable amount of money to make up.

This is revenue that the city would have, if not for amendment 1.

To cut any further would mean we would have no choice but to make cuts to our Police and Fire budgets.

Commissioners, you’ve indicated this is not an option and I could not agree more.

Keeping Orlando’s residents and visitors safe is the number one priority of our City government. 

We cannot sacrifice our safety no matter how great the savings might be.

To go any further would also mean slashing the core city services that people depend on every day.

We owe it to our residents to continue to give them superior service even in tough times.

So, the third and fourth pieces of the plan I am advocating are a blended approach of a reasonable withdrawal from our reserves… and a measured adjustment of the millage rate.

Tapping into our reserves is not an action we take casually.

Just like the families in our community who make careful withdrawals from their savings accounts in order to make it through tough economic times, it’s the right move to help get our budget in-line today… and help us stay on track for a better tomorrow.

Finally, part 4 of our plan restores the millage to a rate slightly below the rate we experienced between 2002 and 2007.

This modest adjustment means our rate will be lower than any year for the past two decades, except last year.

Even more importantly, at the rate of 5.65, a vast majority, 70 percent, of our residents will be paying less in City taxes than they did last year.

And – 80 percent will be paying less in taxes than they did two years ago.

Our finance team has real world examples of homeowners and small businesses in Orlando and what their likely City taxes will be under this plan.

Before I hand the podium over I want to publicly thank our entire finance team, City CFO Rebecca Sutton and Deputy CFO Ray Elwell.

They have worked many long hours in helping to craft these guidelines.

I also want to thank all of our department directors for their willingness to make difficult choices in order to help our residents get through these tough times.

Rebecca and Ray are going to walk us through the finer points of our budget recommendation…

They’re also going to detail some of the important projects that will remain on track because of our budget prudence this year.

  • Continuing year three of the public safety initiative putting 25 additional police officers in our neighborhoods
  • Ensuring our streets are maintained and our children are safe on their way to  and from school – by funding our school safety sidewalk program
  • Helping to maintain livable neighborhoods with dedicated traffic-calming funds in each district
  • Giving our firefighters the replacement gear necessary to perform their jobs at the highest level
  • Making sure families on the edge have a safety net.  During tough economic times we remain committed to our regional plan to end homelessness. We are directing housing dollars for rental, utility assistance and transitional housing.


As we prepare to make our plan a reality, the question our residents have is, “What does this mean for me?”

In our effort to be as open and transparent as possible – we want to provide residents with the most accurate estimate of what their city taxes will look like under our plan.

Beginning this week, home owners will be able to go to the City’s web site and do this calculation for their individual properties.

They’ll also be able to access a fact sheet with clear, easy to understand answers to other questions they might have about this year’s budget process.

Our technology management staff has worked tirelessly to get this calculator on the web.

I can’t thank them enough for their hard work.

Commissioners, I know this City Council does not take the decisions we are making today lightly.

To put it bluntly, finding a solution to our budget challenge in this new, post-Amendment One era … comes down to two choices:

We can be the City Beautiful…

Or, we can be the City Ordinary.

We can make tough, smart choices that sting in the short term… but keep us on track for the long run.

Or, we can surrender and be a city that lays off police officers and firefighters, that closes parks and community centers… a city where quality of life plummets and no one wants to visit.

I believe we’ve crafted the best solution possible to overcome these challenging economic times and deliver a balanced budget.

It’s a plan that serves our families and gives a majority of home owners a reduction in their property tax bill while keeping our core city services intact.

It’s a plan that keeps our City on a path toward becoming the next great city of this century.

Commissioners, Rebecca and Ray are going to continue our presentation in a few moments..

Later today, during our regular City Council meeting, we will vote on the proposed millage to be sent out with the TRIM notices for fiscal year 2008/2009

In September, we will hold our public budget hearings and formally adopt our budget.

July 13, 2009
City Hall
View the video

Good morning.

Commissioners, for the past six years we have worked together to transform Orlando into a City of progress… a city of opportunity… a City on the rise.

Most importantly, we have worked to ensure Orlando is a safe place to live, work and raise a family.

We have made certain that every new property tax dollar has been spent on public safety… while we reduced the size of government everywhere else.

Despite our hard work, our City is entering uncharted territory because of the global economic crisis and the effects of state-mandated property tax reform.

We are not alone.

City, County and State governments across the nation have been pushed to the breaking point.

But, the job of making sure that Orlando endures this challenge falls uniquely to us, as responsible stewards of public money.

We weren’t elected to office just to handle the easy stuff.

We were given the opportunity to serve so that we might make these difficult decisions and do what is necessary when times get tough.

This is the very definition of leadership.


Even though we are confronting a deficit…

Even though we must reduce the size of our City government for the long haul…

Even though we face, perhaps, the biggest test of our public service careers…

I am confident this City Council will meet this challenge head-on with vision and resolve…

Without excuses or apologies.

Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

Our budget doesn’t shy away from our responsibility.

It’s a long term strategy.

This budget - combined with the action we take today in setting the millage rate - keeps Orlando on course toward a better future by accomplishing four strategic goals:

  • Lower the tax burden on our residents at a time when it’s desperately needed
  • Lower the tax burden for our businesses… allowing our City’s businesses to save jobs
  • Preserve core City services while drastically reducing the size of government to meet the demands of this crisis
  • Use a responsible portion of our reserves while maintaining the fiscal health of the City

Orlando’s Budget Challenge: Long Term Reduction Necessary

Earlier this year, it was clear the recession combined with the effects of state-imposed revenue limitations drastically reduced the City’s anticipated revenues for the next several years and left our budget in a state of “structural imbalance.”

This means our City will see an increase in costs and a decrease in revenues for the foreseeable future.

In the upcoming fiscal year, that imbalance means an estimated deficit of 40-point-three million dollars.

In years ahead we will see larger deficits… unless we make a change.

The Budget Plan: Hold the line on taxes

That change begins with the decision to give our residents tax relief.

In order to secure even the same ad valorem revenue the City received last year, it would take a dramatic increase in the property tax rate.

Increasing the tax rate would be a simple fix – rather than developing a long term strategy and implementing fundamental changes.

Again, we were not elected to do what is easiest.

We’re here to do what’s in the best interest of our residents.

As I made clear in my State of the City Address in February, I am unwilling to raise taxes at a time when families are struggling just to get by.

So, the first part of our budget proposal is to hold the line on taxes.

By doing this, we’re actually providing a needed savings to residents and businesses.

We give them a chance to reinvest that money in their families, homes and businesses.

If we hold the line on taxes… more than half of our home owners are going to pay substantially less in the upcoming year.

Another 30 percent will see an increase right around one dollar.

This is the kind of tax relief our residents need to make it through this recession.

The Budget Plan: Reducing Government

If raising taxes is not the solution – then the only way to balance our budget is to cut costs and reduce the size of our government.

Much like residents who must make choices about what to spend their money on during difficult times… the best option to overcome this challenge is to decide where the City can scale back its expenses… while continuing to serve residents at the highest levels possible.

In March, our senior management team began this process by crafting 12 percent reduction plans for each City department.

Every employee was invited to be part of this process along with our union representatives.

We have worked together over the past five months to refine these budget reduction packages.

The result is the recommendation before you today.

The Budget Plan: Cost Cutting Measures

This is a balanced budget based on the factors that we can control.

I felt it was vital to lead the way in cutting costs.

So early in the process I announced that all appointed officials will be subject to a salary freeze and required to take a one week unpaid furlough among other reductions that effectively reduce their planned 09-10 salaries by almost 6 percent.

At our most recent budget work session in June, our finance staff gave you a comprehensive list of the Citywide service cuts contained in this budget.

Each department took advantage of every opportunity to reduce costs in an effort to minimize potential layoffs.

That list includes measures that make existing jobs more efficient:

  • Saving money in the Police Department by having officers enter their reports themselves using new technology rather than an outdated and more costly method where they passed their reports on to data entry personnel.
  • We found savings in our fleet department by reducing the number of managers and creating one, extended shift
  • We are replacing large portions of St. Augustine grass in the City with Bahia. This new grass requires substantially less mowing and watering and will save the City money.

The list of cuts also includes the elimination or reduction of many services:

  • Eliminating our Downtown Ambassador program and our downtown cleaning crew
  • The elimination of a full time OPD mounted patrol
  • The elimination of our public arts coordinator position and city-supported museum exhibits
  • A reduction in maintenance of City Hall
  • An almost complete reduction of all holiday decorations
  • A drastic reduction in landscaping, irrigation and mowing cycles
  • Reduced pool and community center hours

The Budget Plan: Position Eliminations

These cuts will save us money – but they only take us part of the way toward overcoming our projected deficit.

Because the vast majority of the City’s budget consists of salaries and benefits, the reduction necessary to bridge the gap is simply not possible without eliminating positions.

Again, I felt it was critical to lead by example.

Last week, I announced that the Mayor’s Executive offices would cut a total of 12 positions.

The current budget plan includes the elimination of a total of 313 positions, of which 212 are filled.

It includes unfortunate but necessary position cuts to our two biggest departments – Police and Fire.

From the beginning, we have worked to conduct this extremely difficult process with compassion, integrity and transparency Those employees whose positions have been identified for elimination were notified in May.

Those employees and all members of our City workforce have received constant communication and information about the budget process and what impacts it will have on our workforce.

This includes pension and healthcare benefits information, counseling services and information about job training workshops and other classes available to employees.

We also offered employees the opportunity to take a voluntary separation package, including those whose positions were identified for elimination.

We are currently in the final stages of determining what impact those voluntary separations will have on our budget, but we know the impact will be positive.

The Budget Plan: Responsible Use of Reserves

Commissioners, in our roles as stewards of public money, our most important job must be making sure our City is financially stable.

The final piece of our plan is the responsible use of our reserves enabling us to bridge the remaining portion of our budget gap while at the same time maintaining the City’s financial health.

The Budget Plan: Still “A Work In Progress”

As I said before, the plan before you today is a balanced budget based on the factors that we can directly control.

We are in the midst of a nationwide economic mess… that is affecting our City differently than anything we have dealt with before.

So, we’re going to have to think differently and act differently in attacking this challenge.

In recent years, I presented a complete budget proposal to you on the same day I gave my annual budget address.

But, the budget in front of you today is a “Work in progress.”

If nothing changes between now and September, this balanced budget proposal will stand.

We hope a number of factors outside of our control will make some of the cuts and position eliminations unnecessary.

We are in the process of applying for two different federal stimulus grants that would allow us to preserve many of the position cuts in the Police and Fire departments.

These are newly available, competitive federal funds that are designed specifically to aid cities like Orlando who have determined they must make cuts to those departments.

We are also seeking other resources outside the City to preserve and maintain services, chiefly from a variety of other funds through the federal stimulus program:

Everything from road repair… to stopping domestic violence… to helping our fleet become more energy efficient.

We also have been in contact with each of our bargaining units and hope that we are be able to stave off some of these personnel cuts.

As I said earlier, the number of voluntary separations could also help to lessen the need for layoffs.

All of these outstanding factors mean one thing – our work on the budget is going to require more refinement as we enter the end of summer and move into the fall.

The Budget Plan: Keeping Orlando on Track

Looking at the big picture, this budget emphasizes our core services.

  • Our total budget is reduced by 47 million dollars.
  • Our general fund is reduced by 9 million dollars.
  • The only departments that will see an increase in their budgets are Police, Fire and Public Works.

This budget does not paint a rosy picture today.

But, it’s important to realize the picture is not bleak, either.

The plan we’ve developed balances hard realities… with hard choices.

This budget preserves many of the important projects and priorities we have set as a community.

In the coming months, downtown’s new Fire Headquarters is set to open along with a new Police Training Facility.

We have made sure there is money in this budget to maintain tools and training for our police and firefighters.

This investment will help ensure the long term safety of our residents.

The Community Venues will be built – without any general fund dollars.

Right now at the Events Center site – jobs are being created and companies are staying afloat because of the project’s positive economic impact.

Through our Strengthen Orlando program, we continue to leverage partnerships across our community to help residents and businesses weather the storm during these tough times.

Lessons from the Orlando Magic

Later today, during our regular City Council meeting, we will vote on the proposed millage to be sent out with the TRIM notices for fiscal year 2009/2010.

Holding this millage rate steady and putting money back into the pockets of our residents is a critical first step to the strategy we are recommending.

The other elements of the strategy are going to require some heavy lifting on our part – and the ability to think differently and use every opportunity to cut costs.

Our Orlando Magic, in their run to the NBA finals, gave us an interesting lesson on how we might approach our task.

Many times, the Magic found themselves behind by large margins… early in the game.

They didn’t go into crisis mode.

They knew there was a lot of game left.

They knew they could not miraculously bridge that deficit with one shot.

The team had to make adjustments and be willing to change their game as the situation demanded.

They had to make small gains when they were given the chance.

They had to be creative.

When the entire team embraced this game plan as a unit, good things happened.

Bucket by bucket… they climbed back… and erased that deficit.

Commissioners, it’s time for us to embrace that spirit.

We are “early in the game” when it comes to the long term effects of this global financial crisis on our City.

I firmly believe if we follow this strategy and are open to embracing change and making gains where we can we will come out ahead.

If we put money back into resident’s pockets and responsibly reduce the size of government, we will put our City in position to endure this hardship and surge ahead once our national economy recovers.

Thank you.

August 16, 2010
City Hall


Good Morning Commissioners,

This is the eighth budget address I have given as Mayor of the great City of Orlando.

Deciding where to allocate our resources to best serve residents is never easy – even in the best of times.

But, the challenges we have faced over the last three years have been unlike any in our City’s history.

In order to confront the effects of this “Great Recession,” we have made some incredibly difficult decisions.

We have cut programs and reduced services.

We’ve eliminated more than 400 positions.

We’ve dramatically reduced the size and driven down the cost of our government.

At the same time, we have also helped residents “weather the storm” and kept our City on course for a more prosperous tomorrow.

We have held our millage rate steady… and in doing so ensured that 45 million dollars remained in the pockets of our residents and business owners.

We’ve fought to create new jobs and preserve the ones we have.

We have worked every day to improve our City services and increase the value of those services to taxpayers.

Perhaps most important, we have not let the effects of the recession diminish our ability to perform our most important job… keeping people safe.

In fact, under the worst economic conditions in 75 years, we’ve engineered the most dramatic reduction in violent crime in City history.

Through our investment in the latest tools, training and technology for our officers, we have made this City safer.

Compared to 2006…

Homicides are down 47 percent.

Robberies are down nearly 50 percent.

Assaults are down more than 25 percent.

The number of cars stolen in this city has been cut in half.

In Parramore, there has been only one homicide event in the last three years.

Juvenile crime in Parramore has been cut by 80 percent.

Our commitment to keeping residents safe even in the toughest times also extends to our fire department.

Cities across the country have been forced to lay off firefighters.

We would have been among them, if not for an extraordinary bipartisan effort to secure federal funding to keep our firefighters on the job.

We partnered with our elected leaders in Washington and our Union Leadership, working for more than a year to secure this critical funding.

Because of this work, our fire department remains one of the top 60 departments in the nation, out of more than 48-thousand.

The relationships we’ve forged at the federal level have also helped secure critical dollars to keep funding programs that we had been previously forced to cut or reduce.

We’ve fought for funding to help combat domestic violence, reduce traffic congestion and fund our social service agencies.

Right now, federal dollars are keeping residents in their homes and helping those less fortunate pay their power bills.

These are examples of the “all hands on deck” approach we’ve adopted in response to these trying times.

We have been able to move our community forward and make our City safer amid a recession that has crippled hundreds of other cities across America.

FY 2010/2011 Budget

Despite this hard work, we began the current budget season in familiar territory:

  • Facing the reality that we were going to continue to see increasing expenses and decreasing revenues for the foreseeable future.
  • Knowing that while we have made many cuts… more would be required.
  • Sharing the belief that if we make tough, responsible choices we can do our part to lead this City out of recession.

Back in March we began work on our fiscal year 2010-2011 budget with an anticipated deficit of nearly 50 million dollars.

Commissioners, at our first workshop I made it clear that I would not support raising the millage rate as a way to solve our budget challenge.

I want to thank each of you for supporting this position.

One third of Orange County’s local governments raised taxes last year and more have indicated they will do so this year.

Not the City of Orlando.

We have continued to draw a line and say our government will live within its means.

In fact, our millage rate is now slightly below the rate when I came into office in 2003.

We have kept our commitment to residents that we will not put an additional burden on them during tough times.

With the burden on us, we have worked together over the past six months to build a balanced approach to cutting costs, enhancing revenues and working with our unions to adjust their contracts to reflect our economic realities.

Our first step was using a responsible amount of reserves to reduce that 49.3 million dollar gap by 20.5 million dollars.

In doing so, we maintained our reserves at 25 percent as required by our policy which is a best practice.

Not only is this an important measure of financial stability for a City government, it also allows us to remain prepared to respond to unexpected emergencies such as hurricanes.

Cost Cutting and Efficiency Measures

Next, we looked at ways to continue to cut costs.

In the past, we’ve done this by reducing each department budget a certain percentage.

This year, we took a different approach.

Rather than using an across-the-board percentage cut, we analyzed the services our departments provide in order to clearly identify our most critical, core functions and the costs associated with those services.

This allowed us to maintain our funding for those core responsibilities in each department, while reducing costs everywhere else.

We also furthered our effort to become more efficient.

  • We’ve revamped our warehousing and supply system and taken our mailroom service in-house, generating close to 300 thousand dollars.
  • We partnered with Google to provide email services for City employees… at a savings of a quarter million dollars every year.
  • We utilized department of corrections workers to take on maintenance in rights of ways at a dramatically reduced cost, saving more than 500 thousand dollars a year.
  • We extended the life cycles of our fleet vehicles and generated a savings of three million dollars each year for the next two years.
  • We consolidated the Transportation Department under Public Works and generated a savings of 250 thousand dollars.

By looking everywhere for savings, we were able to chip away at that deficit number.

All told, we were able to generate 13 million dollars in citywide savings.

More importantly, the savings are proof that our work to instill a new spirit of fiscal responsibility in every department is generating real benefits.

When I first arrived at City hall, the culture dictated that every department spend every dollar allotted to it… for fear of having your budget reduced the following year.

We’ve changed that ideology and now our city staff strives to provide superior service… while also finding ways to finish each year in the black.

While we are talking about our workforce – I want to say thank you to every single member of our City family.

I know the last few years have not been easy.

You’ve been asked to do more with less… again and again.

You’ve seen positions cut and salaries frozen.

Each day, you come to work and deliver the best services around.

I can’t thank you enough for your dedication to our City and your service to its residents.

Position Eliminations

Of course, our biggest expense will always be personnel.

Unfortunately, cutting costs means we need to eliminate positions.

As we did last year, we offered our employees a voluntary separation option, paid for from current year funds.

This allowed us to eliminate more than 120 positions at a recurring savings of nearly 6 million dollars a year.

Just like last year, we are working to reduce the number of actual layoffs necessary to just a handful.

Revenue Adjustments

Next, we looked at user-based services.

We adjusted fees to reflect the cost of providing the services to the individuals who use them.

By modifying these rates we are ensuring that those who use a particular service… pay the majority of the cost to provide that service.

A good example is excessive false fire alarms.

A false alarm costs taxpayers 632 dollars each time.

Now, those who have more than two in a year will be responsible for paying for that false alarm, rather than all taxpayers.

Another example is permit applications.

In the last three years more than 17-hundred plans have been submitted for review… that never got picked up.

That represents thousands of hours of wasted staff time.

So, we’ve adjusted our fees to include a 25 percent deposit on all plan reviews.

Overall, we adjusted the costs of these user fees to reflect what other governments charge for the same service.

We made sure that City residents pay less than anyone else for these services.

Fire and Police Contracts

The last piece of our budget process was coming to an agreement with our Police and Fire unions to open up their contracts and forego cost of living increases for the next two years.

This generated a savings of more than 3.3 million dollars citywide.

I want to thank union leadership and the men and women of the Orlando Fire and Police Department for their willingness to be an active part of the solution to challenges we are facing in this economy.

Police officers and firefighters often talk about the bond they share with their coworkers and always “having each other’s back.”

It’s not just talk.

By forgoing those salary increases, you have shown that no matter what role you fill here at the City of Orlando… we are all in this together.

It’s with the deepest respect and admiration that I say, thank you.

We are continuing discussions with our other bargaining units.

We hope we will soon have similar wage concessions that will alleviate the need for added position cuts.

Budget Highlights

In a few moments, our CFO Rebecca Sutton and Deputy CFO Ray Elwell will present an overview of the proposed budget.

This budget is the product of partnership.

It’s the result of doing what’s right… rather than what is easy.

It continues a 3-year pattern of making tough choices that may not be easy or popular today… but which put our City on a stronger footing for tomorrow.

Just as families focus on “the basics” when times are tough… so does this budget.

It allows our City to continue to perform the functions of government that people depend on every day… at the highest level possible.

  • Protecting our residents and visitors
  • Preventing crime and responding to emergencies
  • Maintaining our roads, parks and sidewalks
  • Picking up trash

Spending money to provide these functions isn’t glamorous.

There won’t be headlines about our City making sure our school safety sidewalk program is funded.

But, ensuring that we provide our core services at the highest level possible no matter what… is the job we were elected to do.


In closing, I want to talk about one of the most common budget-related questions I get when I’m out spending time at many of our locally-owned companies.

Why can’t government run more like a business?

On the surface, it seems like a simple concept.

Yes, you want your government to be as careful with a dollar as every small business is.

Of course, you want your government to strive for maximum efficiency and superior customer service.

If you really think about it… you don’t want your government to run exactly like a business.

The fundamental difference between government and the private sector is the response to supply and demand.

Our recession illustrates this in vivid detail.

In the private sector there is a direct relationship between demand for a product… and the availability of that product.

Take one of our local companies, for example, in either the restaurant or hospitality industry.

When demand goes down… it means they lose customers.

The company responds by reducing inventory or laying off employees.

In government… demand stays the same even when revenues drop.

In fact, tough times often result in increased demand for services.

Fires won’t put themselves out.

Roads can’t repair themselves.

So, the challenge of government is to provide critical services even when revenues drop and times are tough.

Commissioners… that is what we have done every year since our economy began to falter.

That is what this budget accomplishes.

Orlando is certainly not immune from the effects of recession.

But, I believe we are now in a better position than most cities to surge ahead once our national economy recovers.

This budget is another critical step in leading our city through recession… and into recovery.

July 25, 2011
City Hall
View the video

Good afternoon Commissioners,

On July 13, 2009 I stood in this very spot and delivered a grim budget message to you and the residents of our City.

At that time, our country was plunging into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Here in Orlando, the financial crisis had eroded our revenues, leaving us with a 40 million dollar budget deficit.

Worse still, the economic downturn meant the City would see increasingly larger deficits in the years ahead.

Orlando’s financial future faced an unprecedented challenge.

On that day, we talked about choices.

Raising taxes.

Laying off police officers and firefighters… cutting everything to the bone.

Taking a short-term approach… and trying to put these decisions off until later.

All of those options were on the table.

And, those options would have been easy fixes to get our budget back on-line – or just delayed the inevitable.

Rather than taking that easy road… this government chose another path.

For more than two years now, we have rolled up our sleeves every day to make the difficult but necessary decisions that have reduced the size of our government… and allowed us to live within our means:

  • We eliminated more than 400 positions
  • We reduced or eliminated services
  • We dramatically reduced the size of government with the only new spending going toward police and fire protection.
  • Our employees stepped up and voluntarily relinquished cost of living increases.
  • We challenged our departments to do more with less.
  • We continued to fully fund our pension obligations.
  • We made a commitment to delivering balanced budgets without raising taxes.
  • We also kept our reserves, our safety net, intact.  We are one of very few Florida governments who have not raided its reserves during this recession.

We made tough, responsible choices to reduce the size of our government… while maintaining our investments in important areas like police, fire, public works and our downtown core.

This careful planning has kept Orlando on firm financial footing through the toughest days of the recession and into this early period of recovery.

It has also enabled us to position ourselves for a better future.

Because of this hard work our residents can proudly say that right now… Orlando is in the best financial shape of any major city in Florida.

Let me say that again… Orlando is in the best financial shape of any major city in Florida.

Look at how we compare:

  • Orlando has the lowest tax rate of any major city in Florida.
  • Orlando has a lower tax rate than it did 20 years ago.
  • Orlando has fought tax increases while other Florida cities have raised their tax rates in response to the negative effects of the recession.
  • Orlando has balanced its budget without the need to drain its reserves.  In fact, since 2005, Orlando has added to its savings by 30% while local governments around Florida have drained their strategic reserves.
  • Orlando has more police officers per thousand residents than any other major city in Florida.  At the same time, Orlando also has steadily reduced its number of overall employees.
  • Orlando is the only major city government in Florida that has funded all of its committed retirement benefits.
  • Fitch Ratings gave Orlando a Triple-A Bond Rating in 2011, the highest “credit score” possible.
  • In the midst of this effort to reduce costs, we have been able to maintain our strategic investments in police and fire protection, critical infrastructure projects such as streets and sidewalks, new fire stations and police substations, critical upgrades to our storm and waste water systems as well as efforts to continue the revitalization of Downtown Orlando.

FY 2011/2012 Budget

Commissioners, we are in this position because of your hard work during challenging times.

I want to thank each of you for partnership and commitment to fiscal responsibility.

Today, I am proud to be with you as we share the message with our community that we do not face a budget deficit this year.

Accordingly, the budget we are proposing today requires no additional cuts or reductions in services.

More importantly, this budget includes no increases to our tax rate.

We are, once again, holding the line on taxes and keeping money in the pockets of our residents when they need it the most.

In a few minutes, our CFO Rebecca Sutton and Deputy CFO Ray Elwell will present an overview of the proposed budget and highlight some of our planned expenditures for the fiscal year ahead.

You will quickly realize this is a “basics” budget; one that allows our City to continue to perform the functions of government that people depend on every day… at the highest levels possible:

  • Protecting our residents and visitors
  • Preventing crime and responding to emergencies
  • Maintaining our roads, parks and sidewalks
  • Picking up trash
  • Providing the infrastructure necessary for people to go about their lives; storm-water, waste-water and other health and safety functions.

I remarked last year that spending money to provide these functions is not glamorous.

There won’t be headlines about the money we invest in our sidewalk rehabilitation program… or making sure residents trash is picked up twice a week.

But, providing these core services at the highest level possible is our mission.

It’s precisely what this budget accomplishes.

This budget also provides funding to continue what I believe is our City’s greatest success story in the midst of this recession…

A commitment to Police and Fire protection that has helped produce the most dramatic drop in crime in City history… and has helped our fire department remain among America’s best departments.

Since 2007, violent crime has been cut by more than 40 percent in Orlando.

It’s not enough just to bring crime down… we must now do everything possible to keep it down.

This budget continues our investment in the tools, training and technology necessary to keep Orlando safe.

That commitment also extends to the Orlando Fire Department.

We spent the past two years fighting for federal grant money to keep our firefighters on the job.

Those firefighters whose jobs were saved… have made us proud, along with the entire department.

They have maintained the department’s ISO rating of one; making them one of only 60 departments, out of more than 50-thosuand nationally, to achieve this designation.

What does a designation like this mean for our residents?

A great example is our EMS response.

OFD’s “code save” rate is 34 percent… compared to a national average of between 2 and 10 percent.

This means, if you have an emergency like a heart attack in the City of Orlando, you have a much greater chance of surviving it because of the proven performance of our Fire Department.

The most pressing issue on most people’s minds during this recession has been creating new jobs and keeping the ones we have.

While it’s not the function of our City government to create jobs; we do have an important role to play in helping to lay the foundation for the private sector to create jobs and opportunity.

So, our proposed budget continues to fund a diverse slate of business support programs and efforts to diversify our Central Florida economy.

It includes programs such as our Main Street districts and our Businesses Assistance Team.

SunRail is another a terrific example of this commitment to jobs.

Just days ago, we kicked off the construction of our first-ever commuter rail system.

Our City commitment to this project is less than one tenth of one percent of our total budget.

In return, we get a once-in-a-generation project that will give our residents much-needed, less expensive alternative to their automobiles; while also generating more than 200-thousand jobs over the next 25 years.

It’s the same sort of investment we are making with projects such as the Medical City at Lake Nona, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and downtown Orlando’s planned Creative Village.

A Well-Run, Fiscally Responsible City

Commissioners, I hope each of you is proud of the work we have done to overcome our budget challenges and continue to provide the superior services our residents depend on every day.

I hope our residents are proud as well.

I often say the best part of my job is simply getting to talk with the people who call our City home.

What’s going on in their lives.

What’s important to them.

What concerns they have.

In the last few years, many of those conversations have focused on what steps Orlando’s families are taking to tighten their belts… or what they’re sacrificing today in order to provide in the future.

I want our residents to know that their government has made those same, tough spending decisions in these challenging times;  and we’ve done so on their behalf.

I want them to see where their money goes… why that spending is important to our City… and how it provides a benefit to them.

And… I want them be proud that they live in a well-run, fiscally responsible city that is as careful with a dollar as they are.

Commissioners, Thank you again.

To all the dedicated men and women who serve the residents of our City… thank you as well for your commitment to Orlando.

Now, Ray and Rebecca will deliver our budget presentation.

July 30, 2012
City Hall
View the video

This is the tenth budget address I have given as Mayor of the great City of Orlando.

As we have said many times before; deciding where to allocate our resources to best serve residents is never easy, even in the best of times.

But, the budget challenges we have faced over the last four years have been unprecedented.

I am incredibly proud of this City Council’s ability to rise to those challenges.

In the midst of the worst economic conditions since the great depression… with revenues plummeting and expenses outside our control like fuel and healthcare escalating rapidly…we have kept taxes low…

  • While continuing to deliver superior City services
  • While shrinking the size of our government with the only new spending going toward police and fire protection
  • While building our reserves
  • While also keeping our commitments to our pension funds

It has not been easy.

We’ve made many difficult, but necessary decisions about where to cut back, and where to invest our increasingly limited resources.

The result of these decisions is that Orlando is in the best financial shape of any major city in Florida.

The budget we are presenting for the fiscal year ahead maintains that financial strength and standing, while continuing to deliver superior city services and keep the tax rate low.

This budget is another step in leading our city through recession… and into recovery.

It’s a budget that minimizes taxes and delivers the highest levels of services possible, so that our government can support the private sector and Orlando’s residents to continue to fuel our economic recovery.

This budget maintains our superior police and fire protection and public works services.

It continues our investment in neighborhoods.

It contains no new spending, with two relatively small exceptions:

The purchase of new land to expand the footprint of our City’s signature park, Lake Eola Park
And, a three percent cost of living increase for City staff. As you know, our employees voluntarily gave up salary increases to help us reduce costs over the past two years. This year, we are honoring our commitment to return those cost of living increases.
Your Tax Dollars: The Value of Orlando City Services

In most budget speeches, this is the part where the elected official might talk about what major new projects or programs tax dollars are funding.

As our budget for the fiscal year ahead is the continuation of what we have called a “basics budget” for the last few years — one might conclude that we don’t have much to talk about… or maybe that what we’re doing is unremarkable.

I submit to you this is anything but the case.

To illustrate this point, I want to do something a little different.

Rather than focus solely on the specific services or programs this budget maintains, I want to talk about the value of those services to Orlando residents.

The average City household pays 38 dollars and 86 cents per month in City property taxes.

In return for those 39 dollars, we get police protection and safe neighborhoods.

  • We get fire protection at a level that’s better than 99 percent of cities in America.
  • We get Parks, ball fields, green space.
  • We get our streets cleaned more often — and our potholes fixed faster than any major City in Florida.
  • We are able to maintain our roads and sidewalks.
  • And, we get a multitude of other City services.

Now, think about that 39 dollar figure in comparison to other monthly bills we might have.

  • A basic cable TV package runs about 70 dollars.
  • The average electric bill is 110 dollars.
  • The average car insurance is 125 dollars.
  • A home alarm system is about 40 dollars.

What that means is you actually pay the same price for the alarm system… as you do for the police officers and first responders that show up to your house in an emergency.

Or, you pay three times as much money per month to safeguard your car as you do your neighborhood.

The other important point to make is that if we passed along the full cost to provide these services to taxpayers; their bill would easily be more than twice as much.

We make these comparisons not to brag about our City services, but to show our residents exactly what they’re getting in return for their hard-earned property tax dollars and illustrate the relative bargain those services represent.

Future Budgets

The budget we have brought forward ensures that we are able to provide taxpayers with that bargain, once again, in the year ahead.

In a few minutes, Rebecca Sutton is going to show us how we’ve managed to do this.

She will also spend some time talking about future budgets.

Commissioners, the choices made by our City Council over the past few years were made with the aim of not “rocking the boat” when it came to our economic recovery.

Every year since 2008 we’ve said that our government did not want to put more pressure on a family that’s about to lose its home… or someone who just lost a job.

Our strategy has been to give as much time as possible for our local and national economy to recover.

To make that happen, we took the necessary steps to slash our budget amid an economic climate where we expected revenues to continue to shrink… and costs continue to rise.

From the beginning, we made it very clear that our City government was up to the task of taking on this burden and living within its means.

But, we also said that this scenario could not be continued forever.

State lawmakers, through mechanisms like property tax reform and the impending passage of Amendment 4 this fall, have ensured that we are going continue to see revenues decline.

What this means is that at some point, if your revenues are declining and your expenses continue to increase, you are going to reach point where there’s essentially nothing left to cut besides police and fire.

So, you must make adjustments or generate more revenue.

We have time and options available to us as a City Council, but we are going to have to address this imbalance beginning next year.

I am confident this City Council is up to the task of doing what’s necessary to continue to provide strong, efficient, fiscally-responsible government.

Closing and Thank You

In closing, I want to thank Rebecca Sutton, Ray Elwell, City CAO Byron Brooks and all of our department directors for their work to craft a balanced budget this year… and every year.

I also want to thank every single member of our City family.

I am proud to work alongside so many hard working public servants.

Your dedication and passion for serving Orlando’s residents is one of the reasons I’m excited to come to work every day.

I also want to thank our residents, our business community, and our civic and faith-based leaders for being part of the annual process to balance our resources to provide the services we all depend on every day.

We look forward to your input at our public budget hearings in September.

Finally, I want to thank our City Commissioners.

A decade ago when I became mayor, this City Council made a commitment that we would show our residents where their money goes… we would illustrate why that spending is important to our City… and we would demonstrate the benefits those services provided.

This council has kept that promise, and the result is that our City in the best financial shape of any major City in Florida.

That concludes my formal remarks on the budget.

I would now like to call on Rebecca Sutton.

Thank you.

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