TOWN HALL MEETINGS
TO DISCUSS FY13 BUDGET AND SOUTHWEST LAKELAND FIRE STATION FUNDING OPTIONS
The City of Lakeland City Commission will be holding two town hall meetings to discuss the Fiscal Year 2013 budget and possible funding methods for a new Fire Station proposed in the Southwest quadrant of the City. There will be a town hall public meeting starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 21st at the Sandpiper Golf Club Clubhouse located at 6001 Sandpipers Drive, Lakeland, FL 33809. On Wednesday, August 22nd starting at 6 p.m. there will be a town hall meeting at Cleveland Heights Golf Course in the Clubhouse located at 2900 Buckingham Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33803. Both meetings are scheduled 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
There is a Southwest Lakeland Fire Station in the City’s long-term plan to be constructed in 2017. However, there is a desire among members of the City Commission to start construction in the upcoming year due to a $2 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation that will be available in 2013 to assist in the construction costs. There has also been a push from citizens living the Southwest Lakeland area to accelerate the construction of a fire station.
Citizen feedback is very crucial in both the decision whether to build the new Fire Station at this time and if so, how to fund its capital and operating costs. Proposed funding possibilities include a property tax millage increase, a reduction of City services or increased dividends from the Water and Wastewater Utilities (funded through a rate increase).
The proposed property tax increase is .5 mills. Currently the City of Lakeland has a property tax rate of 4.1644 mills per every $1,000 of assessed residential property value. It is proposed that the millage rate be increased to 4.6644 mills per every $1,000 of taxable residential property value in order to construct and man the proposed Southwest Lakeland Fire Station. There is also interest from some members of the City Commission to increase water and waste water rates to fund the proposed fire station. Another option is to reduce existing City services to fund the operation costs of the new station. There is also the option to forgo the $2 million FDOT grant and build the new Fire Station in 2017 when it is in the capital plan.
Lakeland residents are encouraged to attend these town hall meetings because citizen input is very important in the decision making process. The City is in the closing stages of preparing the FY13 budget document that goes into effect October 1, 2012. The decision regarding the Southwest Lakeland Fire Station is the crucial factor in finalizing the FY13 budget. Please call 863/834-6264 to receive more information regarding the town hall meetings, the proposed Southwest Lakeland Fire Station or the FY13 budget.