July 28, 2003
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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