Wellington’s budget is growing by nearly $21 million. But officials want to make sure residents know where that money is coming from: savings.
The village has been stowing money away for two projects — rebuilding its water and wastewater treatment plants — for about 10 years, Village Manager Paul Schofield said at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Those two projects, and the $14.5 million to pay for them, were part of the $110 million budget unanimously approved by the council at that meeting.
Council members also gave final approval to the coming fiscal year’s tax rate of 2.43. Though that is a drop from this year’s rate of 2.44, residents likely will have higher tax bills after Wellington saw a nearly 8 percent increase in property values from last year. That rise would be about $15 for a homesteaded property valued at $307,500 — Wellington’s median home value — or $53 for that same property if it is not homesteaded.
Schofield said while some of the $21 million added to the 2018 budget comes from property taxes, the $14.5 million being added from the Wellington Utility Department’s savings is the largest chunk. Another $3.5 million is Wellington’s slice of the county’s 1 cent sales tax, part of which the village will use for work at Community Park on South Shore Boulevard.
“I think that the number can be eye-popping, but it is really because we have taken previously collected money and put it into one budget at one time,” Vice Mayor John McGovern said.
This year’s budget also includes:
- Two percent more for the village’s contract with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, including money for two more deputies in Wellington.
- More than $475,000 to widen the intersection of South Shore Boulevard and Pierson Road.
- An increase in money for Wellington’s senior transportation program.
- Funding to expand the parking lot at the Wellington Tennis Center.
- $300,000 for more multi-use paths and bike lanes, and another $300,000 to expand the village’s neighborhood trails program.
- $75,000 to replace between one and five neighborhood signs.
Texting while driving
In addition to passing the budget, the council unanimously approved a resolution to encourage the Florida Legislature to pass a law making texting while driving a primary offense. Currently in Florida, texting while driving is a secondary offense, meaning motorists have to be pulled over for another reason – like speeding or reckless driving – before a law enforcement officer can cite them for tapping on their smartphones while behind the wheel.
In passing its resolution, Wellington joins other cities around the state — including Boynton Beach and Boca Raton — in calling for state lawmakers to toughen penalties for drivers who text behind the wheel.
Top Cop and Top Firefighter
Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy Sandra Horne was named Wellington’s Top Cop of the Year. Her work with senior citizens in the village put her at the top of a list of several highly qualified candidates, council members said. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue firefighter/paramedic Bradlee Doerzbacher was named Wellington’s Top Firefighter of the Year.