Orange Park council opens its 2022-23 budget talks

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 8/17/22

ORANGE PARK – The town of Orange Park started to break down and hash out its next budget during the first of three public meetings.

At Monday night’s two-hour budget workshop, Town Manager …

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Orange Park council opens its 2022-23 budget talks

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The town of Orange Park started to break down and hash out its next budget during the first of three public meetings.

At Monday night’s two-hour budget workshop, Town Manager Sarah Campbell said the town had about $15.7 million in revenues.

The town's largest projected revenues are ad valorem taxes, which increased from $3,678,699 in the 2021-2022 fiscal year to $4,055,769 in the upcoming fiscal year.

“Property values increased pretty dramatically countywide,” Campbell said. “The other revenues are smaller with not much change in those.”

The American Rescue Plan Act will provide $2.2 million for the second consecutive and final year. Campbell said there are about $1.4 million in federal funds rolling over.

The commission then heard budget reports from department heads Finance Director John Villanueva and Economic and Community Development Director Stephen Smith.

On the event side, Events Coordinator Emily Dockery said 45,000 people attended the Fall Festival last year. The event raised $59,882, according to the town. This year’s Fall Festival is the 40th and it takes place on Oct. 15-16.

“This is how we showcase our town,” Mayor Randy Anderson said.

The farmer’s market events had 15,000 people spread out over 17 dates. Kids Fest, attendance 8,000, finally got a break from the weather, she said.

“Everybody was super happy, it was one of the first times we’ve had the event both days,” Dockery said.

Inflation presented a challenge, Dockery said. Costs for event-related equipment like porta-potties have increased, but the town lost transportation services to one of its events, which Dockery said stack on one another.

“There’s a lot of little things like that that add up,” Dockery said.

Anderson asked about events for adults, including the Longest Table event, which was canceled by inclement weather.

“I think we need to budget about $20,000 for adult events,” Anderson said.

Budget and Finance Committee member Winnette Sandlin said when the town spends money it needs to be flexible. Paying attention to trends is important, she said.

“We live in an era where the attention span is very short,” Sandlin said.

With building permits, Campbell showed projections of the town breaking even for the next fiscal year. However, by 2025 the town could see a potential $57,000 deficit in the fund. Campbell said the town has to be competitive with other local entities, but also must cover costs for the particular funds.

“The permit costs need to be increased to break even every year,” she said.

Council members noted the small size of each department and thanked town staff for a thorough process.

The next two budget meetings are at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 22, and Wednesday, Aug. 24.

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