Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer delivered his annual budget address to his colleagues on the city council this morning, with a positive outlook of the region’s financial direction stemming from a balanced budget. However, there was tension between City Commissioners over how each Commissioner’s individual operating expenses are handled.
Dyer began delivering his address with a concentration on efficiency of services with stable costs. A reduction in crime, better care of public roads, and “green” initiatives revolving around waste management, were all points he hit on during his 10 minute speech.
The event was far less controversial than last year, when the council passed a vote to raise property taxes 17% to cover a budget shortfall. The Mayor and the rest of the council in retrospect is convinced it was the right decision
“Let me be clear. This has not been easy” said Dyer “We have tightened our belt to the last notch. We learned to do more with less. We stretched vehicle maintenance and replacement as far as it will go. We reduced our staff. We delayed some infrastructure projects. We found new and efficient ways to invest in our city”
The tension during the meeting came during the council comment portion of the workshop. District 1 City Commissioner Jim Gray told his colleagues that they had an individual duty to stay within their designated operating budgets, which are used for miscellaneous expenses such as community parties and office expenses, saying “We keep saying Government needs to be ran like a business, if our leaders can’t stay within their allocated budget, they need to explain why.” District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill reminded Gray that the needs of each individual district were different from one another. “I’ve got residents living in $400 shacks.” Gray replied “If the shoe fits, then put it on”. Hill told the Observer following the meeting that she was within her budget.
Dyer joked after the exchange “Well, aside from that, this has been the easiest budget meeting in a while”.