October Mayor’s Column
By Mayor Anne Gerwig
We are starting off the fall season with some great news. Wellington, once again, made Money Magazine’s Top 50 places to live in 2016. Coming in at #36, although I always rank us number one, Wellington is noted as “polished and chic,” appreciative of the natural landscape, and prominent in the equestrian world as the host of the largest and longest-running horse show in the world – the Winter Equestrian Festival. We are thrilled with this recognition, and we will continue to promote our great hometown.
Our work took center stage on September27th when Wellington’s Council adopted a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2016 -2017. The Village’s budget is one of the most concrete expressions of public policy, as it sets forth the priorities for the upcoming fiscal year, which runs October 1, 2016, through September 30, 2017. The adopted budget will serve as a roadmap for how funds will be allocated, and as a system of checks and balances to make sure we are spending Village funds properly. My fellow Councilmember and I are committed to adhering to Wellington’s core values focusing on families, neighborhoods, and our residents. With Wellington property values up over 8% for the third year in a row, and the economic outlook improving, we were able to balance the budget and increase spending on important capital improvements.
This year’s budget calls for total spending of approximately $89.5 million, about $4 million more than last year, at a property tax rate of 2.44 mills. This millage rate is the lowest since 2009. Total Wellington taxes, including ACME assessments and solid waste collection, comprise approximately 16% of the average resident’s tax bill. I am happy to report that all our taxes, assessments, and utility rates are either reduced or the same. Specifically, our solid waste collection assessment is down by $5, which can mean an overall reduction in the average homesteaded property tax bill.
The Village’s most significant area of expenditures is the maintenance of the Village’s streets, parks, trails, and stormwater management system. Included in the new budget is additional spending for law enforcement as we continue to focus on safety and maintaining the outstanding services provided by PBSO. This year’s budget calls for Capital Project spending of approximately $12 million, up from $400,000 from the prior fiscal year. Major projects slated for this year’s budget include adding turn lanes at the intersections of Big Blue Trace & Barberry Drive, and Big Blue Trace & Wiltshire Drive, extending the left turn lane at South Shore Boulevard and Pierson Road, improvements to the Scott’s Place playground including shade and lighting, and major upgrades to the water and wastewater facilities.
The budget also includes $297,000 in contributions to reading and math programs in our local schools, $51,000 for the Wellington Senior’s Club, and $58,000 toward the County paratransit service.
This year, the Budget Challenge was available to the public from Thursday, June 30th, 2016 thru August 15th, 2016. It was an opportunity for the Village to gauge community support for projects and programs under consideration for funding in the upcoming fiscal year 2017 budget.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our many outreach efforts. From attending Breakfast with the Village Manager, to participating in the Budget Challenge, completing our online surveys, and following us on Facebook and Twitter. I encourage you to be a part of our many outreach options, including attending Council meetings and public hearings as they are announced.
In the meantime, feel free to contact me or any member of Council with questions or input. You can find a copy of the final budget for 2016-2017 and updated fee schedule at wellingtonfl.gov/budget
I look forward to seeing you around our Great Hometown this month.