Mayor's Budget Address
July 19, 2004
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
Our budget will ensure our City remains committed:
- To Public safety
- To Economic Opportunity and quality
- To Efficient and accountable core
- To Promoting a “culture of
- 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
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
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
- 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
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
The State’s formula recognizes our prudent financial decision
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
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
- Third, find efficiencies
- Fourth, Go Green, use
our City’s new green initiative as a way to save money and
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
- 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
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
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
Fourth and finally,
we will launch our environmental action agenda to
transform Orlando into a leading “Florida Green
It’s not only the right thing to do, but a sound
decision for our citizens’ well-being and our
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 Engergy 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
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
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
I’m proud to present a budget directive today that:
careful and balanced choices
- Maintains our
commitment to public safety and core city
- And, keeps
Orlando on course to becoming the next great
American city of this new century
Back to top