Urban Trail gaps to be filled; City employees to help County with assistance program applications; Orlando budget hearing held

Orlando City Council notes: July 20, 2020

Two gaps in Orlando Urban Trail to be connected

Orlando is working to fill in the gaps in the Orlando Urban Trail and is using Federal Highway Administration funds to do so. (See our earlier article at yourcommunitypaper.com/articles/orlando-bicycle-beltway-filling-in-the-gaps.)

The first gap in the trail is in the North Quarter, where there is no connection between the Colonial Overpass Bridge and the existing off-street trail off of Magnolia Avenue. (Read more about this at yourcommunitypaper.com/articles/colonial-overpass-officially-opened.)The second gap will link south downtown and the central business district by a trail along South Division Avenue.

The project is estimated to cost $4.3 million; $3.6 million will come from the Orlando Urban Trail Gap and Extension Grant, which is offered by the Florida Department of Transportation using FHA funds. The remainder of the needed funds will be pulled from downtown south neighborhood improvement funds and transportation impact fees.

City employees to help County with financial assistance applications

Orange County’s Small Business Financial Assistance Program and Individual Financial Assistance Program were so greatly needed in Orange County that the website to sign up for assistance closed after being open for just 11 minutes on July 13.

With the county overloaded with applications, Orange County turned to the City of Orlando for help. City Council passed an agenda item that will allow Orlando to assign City employees the task of processing applications for funding.

“We don’t have any authority or responsibility related to how many [Orange County is] going to process at any given time or making decisions on who qualifies or doesn’t qualify. We’re simply going to provide some administrative help to them,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said.

Tentative millage rate recommendations approved

The City of Orlando advises the Orange County Property Appraiser on what the millage rate should be set at inside city limits. City Council passed three agenda items relating to millage rates in city boundaries, but these will not be finalized until the budget is passed in late September.

A millage rate plays a part in how much a property is taxed. The city is recommending the millage rate for property in city limits remain set at 6.65. Properties in the Downtown Development Board boundaries would still have another 1.00 added on, and properties in the Downtown South Neighborhood Improvement District would also remain at an additional 1.00 tacked on. (Visit downtownorlando.com/Business/ Profile/Maps and www.orlando.gov/files/d728fdc4-bbbf-410c-bd13-9831f9cb8a8f/DSNIDmap2014update.pdf to view these boundaries.)

For example, a property owner whose property is appraised at $100,000 in the central business district would have to pay a 6.65 millage rate for being in city limits, which would be $665. The property owner would also have to pay an additional $100 for being in the central business district (DDB millage), so $765 with the two proposed millage rates.

These are not the only amounts a property owner would pay in taxes. Additional millage rates such as county millage rates, school millage rates and others are not set by the City.

Council honors two decades of service by Commissioner Patty Sheehan

Commissioner Patty Sheehan has served for Orlando’s City Council for 20 years now.

The council celebrated by thanking Sheehan for her service and showed a picture of a smiling Sheehan 20 years ago. Commissioner Regina Hill chimed in, saying she didn’t know if the tan suit she was wearing in the photo was politically correct, and she expressed her gratitude to Sheehan for being a friend and a mentor. The mayor, who was elected in 2003 and has served with Sheehan for 17 years, also expressed his gratitude for her.

“Commissioner, you have been a tremendous public servant for the last two decades and pushed so many different initiatives,” Dyer said. “This city is a better city because of your two decades of service, and I have enjoyed serving with you and will continue to enjoy serving with you in the future.”

Sheehan said she loves this city and said she never thought she would be in this position for so long. She also reflected on the many challenges the city has faced from hurricanes to Pulse but said she is so inspired and grateful for the togetherness of the council.

“You all are my longest relationship; what can I say?” Sheehan said.

Budget hearing held before council meeting

Before the July 20 Orlando City Council meeting, the City held a budget workshop virtually. The workshop was a presentation by Orlando’s chief financial officer and broke down the proposed budget for fiscal year 2021, comparing it to the 2020 budget. You can review the presentation by visiting orlando.gov/Our-Government/Departments-Offices/OBFS/Management-and-Budget/Fiscal-Year-2020-2021-Budget.

This workshop was an informational meeting of the proposed budget and did not include public comment. If you’d like to make your voice heard, the City is hosting budget hearings Sept. 8 and Sept. 21, both scheduled for 5:01 p.m.

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