July 25, 2016
City Council Chambers
Thank you, everyone, for joining us for our 2017 Budget Address.
This is our annual opportunity to show our citizens where their tax dollars go – and why the programs and services we invest in are essential to meeting the needs of our residents and business owners.
This marks the 14th time I’ve delivered this address.
For most of you in this room, this speech and the process by which we develop our budget, has become fairly routine.
However, as we all know, the last several weeks in our City have been anything but routine.
It has only been six weeks since one of the most horrific tragedies ever visited on an American city… happened in Orlando.
Recognizing that, I believe it’s important that we begin today, my first formal remarks since the Pulse shooting, by doing something out of the ordinary.
First, we want to have a moment of silence in continuing honor of the victims and their families.
We want them to know that we are still with them… that we’re still working for them… and that we’re still thinking about them every single day.
Please, bow your heads with me.
***Moment of Silence***
Next, I think it’s appropriate that we hear the opposite of silence to recognize all of the men and women who work for the City of Orlando.
Over the last several weeks, I have been awestruck by so many things.
The incredible strength and resolve shown by the victims and their families.
Our resident’s capacity to love one another… and to show the world what it means to stand up to hate and terror.
I’ve also witnessed the dedication and professionalism displayed by the members of our City family who have done their jobs under incredibly challenging circumstances.
The term “above and beyond” doesn’t even begin to describe the way our employees rose to the challenge when crisis and chaos visited our City.
From the first responders who dealt with the shooting and its aftermath…
To employees who took on the unprecedented tasks of creating a family assistance center and a non-profit to help the victims and their families…
To those who managed countless projects and challenges that rose up day after day as our City government worked to get our residents through the tragedy…
And, to other employees who simply did their jobs better than they’ve ever done them before because they knew serving our residents was the best way they could help our City heal and provide some sense of normalcy.
To, all of you, we want to say thank you.
I am proud to serve as your mayor.
I am even prouder to be your coworker.
Now, we would like everyone who wears a City of Orlando ID badge to stand up, please.
Let your City Commissioners and I say thank you as loudly and proudly as we possibly can.
***Applause Recognizing City Employees***
I know for many of us, it’s difficult to focus on the day-to-day work of government like budgeting when we still have so much to do in the aftermath of the Pulse shooting.
In some ways, it’s good that we’re talking about our budget because it’s important for people to understand the connection between our Pulse response and our annual process to craft a balanced budget.
Simply put, our City was able to respond to Pulse the way it did because of two guiding principles in the way we build our City budget:
1 – Our commitment to investing in public safety – the tools, technology and training for our police and firefighters.
2 – Maintaining and protecting our reserves.
Commissioners, I want to thank you for your leadership over the last several years as we worked through a challenging economic climate.
Every year, we worked to adopt a balanced budget while maintaining an appropriate reserve fund – our emergency fund.
There were times, particularly during the recession, it would have been easier to raid our reserves rather than make very difficult spending decisions like reducing positions, and eliminating services.
Instead, we protected that fund because we knew it existed to make sure our city was prepared to respond to crisis.
Most of us believed that crisis would be something like a hurricane, not a man-made tragedy.
But, having that fund at the ready allowed us to respond to the Pulse shooting and take care of our people, our Orlando residents.
We were able to activate contractors on standby to respond with supplies, to provide barricades for traffic and other crowd safety measures.
We were able to immediately get our emergency operations center up and running and ensure it was equipped with technology and communications tools.
And, we had the ability to bring in additional staff and cover the costs of thousands of hours of overtime.
More than anything, our reserves allowed us to act immediately and decisively without having to wait for financial help from the federal or state government.
To date the City has spent approximately 600-thousand dollars responding to the Pulse shooting.
We are working to recoup portions of this through different grants and other federal programs and have already received more than half of that total back from the Department of Justice.
But, in terms of what we are talking about today, the first goal that our budget for the upcoming year accomplishes, is again, keeping our emergency fund intact.
The remaining parts of the proposed budget we are bringing forward can be described in one simple sentence…
This budget ensures that the best core city services of any major City in Florida… stay the best core city services of any major City in Florida.
Our budget will allow us to continue to provide the same levels of superior services to a growing city that added nearly 5,500 new residents over the last year.
It continues to keep our community safe, by hiring 15 new police officers who will help meet the needs of our growing population by serving our southeast area and our schools.
It ensures we maintain our commitment to ending homelessness.
This budget increases our investment in core infrastructure and capital improvements by another 70 million on top of the 60 million dollars worth of core infrastructure projects that we laid out last year.
Those core projects include improving roadways, sewers and stormwater drains so that residents can travel safely and our streets won’t flood.
Our budget ensures the daily services our residents expect and depend on like trash and recycling pickup or wastewater are second to none.
These kinds of improvements aren’t always visible, but they are the foundation of our superior quality of life.
Our budget includes the creation of a new transportation department within the City.
Our region has 10 billion dollars in transportation projects underway or planned over the next five years.
Everything from the I-4 ultimate project to SunRail.
From expanding bike lanes to adding and repairing sidewalks that help make our City more pedestrian-friendly.
Our transportation infrastructure is what’s going to allow our City to handle the dramatic rise in population we expect to see in the coming years and decades.
With the creation of the transportation department, we’re dedicating the staff and resources necessary to create a true, multi-modal transit system that serves our residents and enhances our quality of life.
Our budget also funds projects that fulfill our commitment to creating a City for everyone.
This includes repairs and enhancements to parks, playgrounds and community centers and the funding to provide for youth programs that serve more than 5-thousand students every day.
Our budget strengthens the City’s ability to help small business owners and continues our commitment to bring the entire suite of City services to our residents in a way that meets their modern, tech-driven needs.
In the coming months, we’ll continue to roll out new functions of our “digital city hall” initiative that will make it easier for our businesses and residents to work with our planning, permitting and code enforcement departments. With the new system it is our goal to provide the best customer service of any city in Florida.
Our budget also ensures our first responders and our entire City team continue to have the highest levels of training, and the most advanced tools, to respond to emergencies.
We were able to respond to Pulse in the way we did because we routinely conduct tabletop crisis response exercises and multi-agency full scale training exercises that cover everything from natural disasters to active shooter scenarios.
Being trained and prepared to respond to crisis is the foundation of our public safety plan, and it’s the foundation of this budget.
Finally, it’s important to note that our budget accomplishes all of this, while keeping our millage rate the same.
I’ll make the point, once more, this is not a very exciting budget.
This spending plan isn’t likely to generate a lot of headlines.
In many ways, this is a good thing, because it keeps us on firm financial footing and allows us to keep delivering the superior services our residents depend on.
It continues to keep our residents safe.
It allows us to continue responding to the needs of a growing City.
And, perhaps most importantly, it allows us to remain prepared for emergencies.
I want to thank our finance team for their great work this year and every year.
I want to thank my partners on our City Council for your leadership as we, again, strive to be responsible stewards of the public’s money.
And, I want to thank our residents for showing the world what it means to love one another… and to love your City.
With that, we will turn it over to Brian Battles, our Deputy Chief Financial Officer, who will walk us through how these priorities and programs translate into budget figures.