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The Villages
Monday, September 20, 2021

Massive growth fueling escalating property tax revenue in Wildwood

Wildwood will seek to hold the line on property taxes next year, according to the city’s proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The tentative tax rate would be $3.25 per $1,000 assessed valuation, which is at the rolled-back rate and down from the current rate of $3.40. The rolled-back rate is the amount needed to collect the same tax revenue as the prior year excluding new construction.

Commissioners began their budget review Monday morning. Two public hearings are scheduled in September with final adoption at the end of the month.

Massive residential and commercial growth provides Wildwood with escalating property tax revenue.

The Villages continues to develop the Villages of Southern Oaks south of State Road 44, which eventually will reach the city limits of Center Hill. Several large home and apartment projects are under construction or planned along Powell Road and County Road 462. Commercial and residential projects also are springing up in the Oxford area.

Trailwinds Village and Beaumont north of County Road 466A continue to add businesses, homes and apartments.

Total property values in the city will reach $3 billion next year, up $814 million from this year.

General fund revenue will be $18.8 million next year and increases are expected in utility service taxes, up $398,200; franchise fees from utility companies, up $435,100; and state shared revenue, up $560,270.

Wildwood is expected to collect $9.3 million in property taxes next year, up from $7.1 million in this year’s budget. Other revenue sources include $2.3 million in franchise fees, $1.8 million in gas and sales taxes, $1.6 million in state revenue sharing and $557,500 in charges for services such as community center rentals.

Capital projects carried over from this year include Millennium Park upgrades and completion of the Municipal Services Complex in a former school building. Other projects will focus on street improvements on Pleasantdale Drive, Barwick Street, Jackson Street and Clay Drain Road/Signature Drive. The city hall heating and air conditioning system will be replaced.

Utility projects include a water main extension on County Road 209, water treatment plant improvements on County Road 501, decommissioning of the Continental Country Club treatment plant and upgrades at Wildwood’s wastewater treatment plant.

Project delays have meant lower expenditures than anticipated, which means Wildwood will not have to take on additional debt to pay for the capital projects.

Proposed personnel changes include restoring the assistant city manager position, which will be filled by chief financial officer Cassandra Smith. The finance department will be restructured.

Wildwood also will add four police officers, three public works employees, two utilities workers and an added staff member in development services.

The police department will receive four new vehicles, a golf cart and a dog.

The proposed budget calls for general fund reserves of $4.4 million at the end of next year, which is 24 percent of the operating budget of nearly $18 million.


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