Local News

AP approves tentative budget

AVON PARK - After a big cut last year, the city of Avon Park is poised to slash property taxes again this year. The city council approved a tentative tax rate of 30 cents on $1,000 of assessed property, which would be a total cut of 95 percent in two years. At Monday's council meeting, City Manager Julian Deleon said the city had financial issues in 2009. "I am pleased to report that despite not a whole lot of economic turnaround, the city is actually looking really good," he said.
The city's millage was the highest in the county two years ago at $5.89, Deleon said. "We are proposing a budget with a 30 cent mil," he said. "It's a 95 percent tax cut in ad valorem property taxes relative to two years ago." The 30 cent millage rate has facilitated the city's continued growth and affordability and allows the city to provide efficient services, Deleon said. The 2013-14 budget includes another reduction in the residential garbage rates from $18 to $16 monthly, he said. Two years ago it was $20 per month. The budget proposes that by December 2013 the city will have "zero" long-term debt, he said. Former Councilman Paul Miller thanked Deleon, "for the great job he has done on our budget and the city council." When he was on the council the city was $3 million in debt, now the city is debt free, Miller said. "What can you ask for?" he said addressing the audience. "What are people complaining about? You are doing a great job, thank you." The proposed budget includes $22,000 to convert one part-time code enforcement position to a full-time position. The 2011 code enforcement budget was $215,000. The proposed 2014 code enforcement budget is $178,000. Deleon's budget summary shows a general revenue reduction from $6.1 million in 2011 to $4.9 million in 2014, with property tax revenues reduced by $1.3 million and expenditures reduced by $1.2 million. The proposed budget shows a reduction in the streets budget from $592,000 in 2011 to $452,000 in 2014, a reduction in the parks budget from $656,000 in 2011 to $313,00 in 2014 and a cut in the city manager's budget from $309,000 in 2011 to $238,370 in 2014. Council approved the tentative millage and the proposed 2013-14 budget. The Sept. 23 city council agenda will include the final public hearing and final vote on adoption of the property tax rate and 2013-14 budget. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826