State of the
City of Belle Isle 2018
Video: Mayor Lydia Pisano presenting the State of the City address
I am honored to present to you our State of the City of Belle Isle. It is hard to believe that we are already in the third quarter of the year. This has been an extremely busy year for myself, your
City Council, the City Manager, staff, Code Enforcement, Public Works, and our police department.
I am very excited to report some initiatives that have been accomplished in the 2017/2018
fiscal year. Street resurfacing in many neighborhoods (many were long overdue) was completed, as was the much needed sidewalk repairs. A forensic audit and a transportation master plan have also been completed. The NAV Board (Navigation Advisory Board) was asked if they would assist with 50% of the funding of a new marine patrol boat, however, it was not approved, so the City did have to proceed with the purchase. Another very exciting accomplishment of which took two years to complete, was a compromise with the Fish & Wildlife Commission, to prohibit duck hunting from 200’ of the shoreline. This was a public safety issue for those that reside around the lakes and the coves. You will see the posted signs around the shoreline as a reminder. The City bought Cross Lake Beach, installed new fencing for the Wallace Green Space, Perkins and Venetian Boat Ramps, plus the renovations at Perkins consisting of the dock expansion and a new driveway. Another much needed item was the replacement of the HVAC at Cornerstone Charter Academy.
It is already one year since Hurricane Irma came through. I am proud of the fact that we were
the first city in Central Florida to have our power restored and our debris picked up. Thank you
again to Pete Madison and Tony Agosto and their crews. Just like in Hurricane Matthew, of
which thankfully spared us the year before, they had their equipment methodically placed
throughout the City and ready for a quick deploy to clear our streets. We are still in the process
of being reimbursed from FEMA for approximately 85% of what was actually spent. The City Manager and staff have repaired and replaced infrastructure and equipment that also were long overdue.
Congratulations to our award-winning police department. On August 21st, they received the
Distinguished Rocky Pomerance Excellence in Policing for a Small Agency from the Florida
Police Chief’s Association. This award recognized significant improvements in all facets of the
police department, including community involvement, criminal investigations, marine patrol,
traffic enforcement, and employee wellness. Also, Sergeant/Detective Jeremy Millis received
the Florida Police Chief Lee McGehee Police Officer of the Year Award for a Small Agency. He received this award for his demonstrated exceptional achievement, and genuine commitment to his
profession, the agency and the public he serves.
The police department has done a great job in solving crimes, being proactive, and protecting
the safety and wellbeing of our residents, businesses, and schools on the streets and on the
lakes. No one knows your neighborhood better than you. If you see anything suspicious, say
something. Contact the Patrol Phone at 407-947-1680. If it is an emergency or something in
progress, ONLY call 911.
An additional staff person was added to our amazing Public Works Department. They work
hard to keep up the City’s infrastructure and cleanliness. When you see them out working, wave and thank them. They are hard workers and are under-recognized for their efforts. A huge thank you to Dwayne and his staff.
Our Code Enforcement Officer has had her work cut out for her with all of the complaints, snipe
signs, and violations. A big thank you to Robyn for her efforts and hard work in keeping the
City in compliance.
As part of our transparency initiative, a part-time social media specialist was hired to keep
you informed of some highlights of the City. Our Council Meetings are also live streamed on the
City’s Facebook page, and you can watch them at your leisure. Signs are placed throughout
the City as a reminder. You can also go to the City’s website, read the minutes and listen to the
audio of the Council and Planning and Zoning Meetings. There is no reason as to why any
residents would be uninformed on any issues. Please take advantage of these.
On July 24, 2018, we held our annual budget workshop of which held a great discussion for us to come up with some ideas, goals, and priorities in the City, for the next fiscal year of 2018/2019. Priorities included:
2. Improved Storm Water Drainage
3. Traffic Calming
4. Marine Patrol Enforcement on the Lakes
Another goal item that I had on my list, and has been the topic of many council discussions
was underground utilities. As you know, we have had many power outage issues lately,
throughout the City, that was not weather related, but rather faulty equipment. Duke has been
out replacing equipment and some poles throughout the City. Converting to underground
utilities, if possible, is not something that can be done overnight, and will take years to be
completed. The City Manager has been working with Duke on the equipment change outs and
hopefully looking into underground utilities in the future.
We also discussed cleaning up Hoffner, enhancing the area of the Nela Bridge, special events, landscaping, and traffic issues, especially concerning near the schools, etc.
The traffic at the Wawa parking lot is a huge concern. Cars are going west on Hoffner from Conway and haphazardly cutting across traffic to pull into the parking lot. The City Manager is working on this issue with the Orange County Traffic Division, and we are hoping it will be resolved soon. I am proud and honored to tell you that not only do we have a balanced budget, but the Mil Rate remains the same at 4.4018. I have had a couple of people stop and ask me if we are keeping the Mil Rate the same, and why their property tax bill increased. The answer is that you may have had an increase in the assessed value of your property. You can confirm this on your TRIM Notice, or go to OCPAFL.org, search your address, and click on your Trim Notice. The proposed combined annual operating budget of $11,392,686 is $534,553 more than the current budget of $10,510,333, an increase of about 8%. Our budget is balanced with revenue coming from ad valorem (Property Taxes according to Value) AND non-ad valorem taxes consisting of franchise fees, gas taxes, utility tax, permitting fees, state shared tax receipts; solid waste collection fees; stormwater management fees; reimbursements for law enforcement; development and review fees; and an appropriation from the General Fund balance. There was an increase in garbage fees to $235.00.
The budget has been prepared in accordance with the provisions of the City Charter, Section
5.02. It includes details and explanations of proposed budget items as well as a line by line
comparison of the proposed budget and current budget.
The City is very fortunate to have a healthy reserve in the General Fund; however, that reserve
came at the cost of delaying much‐needed infrastructure projects. The reserve is now reduced
because the City Council realized that the City could no longer go without the much‐needed
infrastructure repairs, as they are a priority. With a limited amount of commercial property in the
City, we have to rely on residential property taxes to pay for these projects. Throughout the
FY2018‐19 year, the staff will present additional revenue sources for the Council to approve
that will continue to strengthen our financial condition. The City Manager and Finance Director
will also explore additional grant funding for one–time projects and equipment listed in the
Capital Improvement Projects (CIP). A comprehensive evaluation of the areas must be made to
ensure that any annexation will be beneficial to the City and that the City will be able to provide
the same services as residential properties, thus increasing our revenue with very little expense
for waste removal, infrastructure improvements, fire, and police protection.
I want to personally thank our City Manager, Bob Francis, and our Finance Director Tracy
Richardson for all that they have done in putting this balanced budget together, maintaining
our Mil Rate, enhancing the City’s services, and making Belle Isle a better place to live. I also
want to thank our City Clerk, Administrative Assistant Heidi, and the Social
Media Specialist. We are blessed to have such a great team.
The holiday season will be here before we know it. I look forward to seeing everyone at the
City of Belle Isle