Council modifies budget mid-year

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 3/7/18

ORANGE PARK – Orange Park Town Council made amendments to its current fiscal year budget for the first time during a council meeting on March 6.

Amendments include small increases to the police …

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Council modifies budget mid-year

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Orange Park Town Council made amendments to its current fiscal year budget for the first time during a council meeting on March 6.

Amendments include small increases to the police department fund and fire department funds, a decrease from 2 percent to 1 percent in the town’s contingency policy and a change in the Orange Park Athletic Association’s lease which results in the town paying OPAA’s water bill. The budget was also amended to accommodate an anonymous $500 donation that will be split equally between the town’s police and fire departments. The most significant amendment, however, was a mid-year adjustment to the Capital Improvement Plan that will result in more funding for stormwater maintenance.

“Basically, it's roughly $580,000 that will go towards stormwater projects,” Town Manager Sarah Campbell said. “The Public Works Director and I are already identifying where and how that money will be used.”

She said $79,500 of that amount will go towards the purchase of a 2008 Menzi Muck A91 machine and accompanying equipment that the council approved to purchase during the same council meeting. This machine’s purpose, according to Campbell, is to help maintain the town’s stormwater by removing dirt, debris and silt from the town’s ditches.

The $580,000 that Campbell mentioned is the result of the Feb. 6 council meeting where the council voted 5-0 to move $500,000 from the town’s fund balance, or reserve fund, to the general fund budget. At the time, council member Gary Meeks cited that the purpose of the reserve was for times like these, referring to the town’s need for money to continue Hurricane Irma cleanup and stormwater maintenance.

“If we are going to do this, $81,000, I just don’t think that’s going to touch it,” Meeks said, referencing the $81,000 freed up for Irma cleanup from the CIP. “This is what the $5 million is for – it’s for a rainy day and the rainy day is here.”

Council voted 5-0 to approve the ordinance to amend the budget.

After discussing budget amendments, the council went over the 2018-19 fiscal year council strategic goals. Campbell laid out multiple aspects the council hopes to give priority in the next year. Campbell said waterway and stormwater maintenance, street improvements and resurfacing, town vision and revenue, sanitation services, parks, trees, agency relations and economic development are areas on which to focus. However, one of the biggest priorities will continue to the equitable sharing of resources and revenue with Clay County and continued negotiations regarding the county sharing revenues from fire and ambulance services now provided by Orange Park.

These goals were approved but not before two amendments to were made. The first amendment saw the council declining to develop a Request for Proposal for strategic visioning services. The second amendment saw the council strike down the idea of hiring an outside professional firm to oversee the town’s visioning process and lead community engagement efforts. The council voted to approve these goals 3-2, with council member Connie Thomas and Mayor Scott Land voting no as they did not agree with the second amendment.

Thomas sees the debate in hiring outside help as a good thing.

“I see it as two-fold,” Thomas said. “A person needs to come in and ask us what questions we want to ask the community and then I think it’s really important to bring the community in and ask the right questions.”

In other business, the council voted to hold a workshop to analyze the 84-page Evaluation and Appraisal Report. This workshop will be held at a later undetermined date.

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