City Approves Budget Adding Police, Firefighters Without Raising Millage

In a 10-minute meeting, the Lakeland City Commission on Thursday night unanimously passed a $730 million budget for 2022-23, with a 5.4323 millage rate for property owners – the same as this year. The budget includes funding to add 13 police officers, 12 firefighters and a new fire station north of I-4.

Commissioners said very little and no one from the public commented. A contingency from Foxwood Lake Estates Property Owners Association, which attended the last budget hearing to ask for a northside fire station, didn’t even realize the meeting ended and they had missed a chance to make a comment.

Explore the city budget

Mayor Bill Mutz said afterwards he was glad not to raise taxes.

“Tonight’s unanimous budget approval was a win for all Lakelanders,” Mutz said. “Citizens will receive more public safety services, city employees will receive well-earned increases, and taxpayers will gain this benefit without any millage increase, without having to create any tax increase whatsoever.”

A mill is one tenth of a percent, which equates to $1 in taxes for every $1,000 in a home’s taxable value. A number of different authorities, including counties, municipalities, school boards and special districts, can charge these taxes. In the case of the city’s tax rate, a home with a taxable value of $100,000 would pay the city $543 in taxes.

Property values, which increased by 14.66% this year, along with a population that has risen in the last two years by 7,600 to 120,300, was enough to add to the city’s coffers and pay for the needed new personnel. But staff and commissioners also recognized that the booming increase in property values would not continue, estimating next year’s at a 4% increase.

According to data from the city, the largest revenue generators for the city include:

  • $528 million for charges for service
  • $49  million from property taxes
  • $35  million from public service, communication and gas taxes
  • $51.6  million from the prior year surplus

The city’s main expenses are:

  • $204 million for fuel and purchased power
  • $181.5 million for personnel
  • $112.1 million for capital outlay (construction)
  • $67.2 million for debt

Department expenditures include:

  • Police — $52.2 million
  • Parks and Recreation — $28.67 milllion
  • Fire — $25.9 million
  • General Government — $8.44 million
  • RP Funding Center — $7 million
  • Community and Economic Development — $4.6 million

 Thursday evening’s vote was the final one on the budget for fiscal sear 2022-2023, which begins Oct. 1.

More on the city budget: The Ledger

Kimberly C. Moore is an award-winning reporter and a Lakeland native.  She can be reached at [email protected] or 863-272-9250.

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