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spenser1058

Consolidation

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https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2011/5/2/consolidation-is-the-wrong-response.html

Every now and again consolidation comes up and I have to say I remain opposed. The unique towns and cities of Orange County stand to gain very little and to lose a lot of what makes them special through consolidation (Winter Park and Winter Garden, for example, are very different places, but both amazing.)

A merger between Orlando and OC is likely to sacrifice the progressivism of the city as conservative voters from the county would have a voice in the city's business. There's a reason that, more than 15 years after OC began to inch closer to a strong mayor form of government, it's still a timid mouse compared to that of the City of Orlando (even though Florida counties have infinitely more resources and powers than our cities do.)

I also liked the mention in the Strong Towns article about schools. People used to do anything to live close to their neighborhood schools. Now, as we've seen most recently with the ongoing battle over a new high school in the Horizon West area, they'll do almost anything to get away from today's warehouses for kids. Another separate piece of that is the architecture: when's the last time a school was actually attractive like Princeton or Kaley Elementaries or Howard or Lakeview Middles?

There are definitely issues in our unincorporated areas (East Orange, for example, is more than twice the population of Orlando but its de facto representation is a single county commissioner.) A better solution, imho, is something like Broward County did a few years back to require all dense areas to be incorporated into new or existing cities. Cities exist for a reason and are still the best way to handle diverse populations living together.

A compromise to consider is consolidation of various departments. Even here one has to wonder. Again, architecture tells us much about what's valued. Compare the new OPD or OFD Station 1 "The Big House" with anything at OCSO or OC Fire and Rescue. Does anything in the county show the same level of pride?  The exceptions were the courthouse which we got from Linda Chapin, famous (or infamous, depending on your politics) for her detente with City Hall and OCCC, which was driven purely by Harris Rosen and the tourism industry, most of whom would like to build a wall at Conroy Rd and become the latest version of RCID but with no accountability to anyone but themselves.

Other suggestions have mentioned things like planning and zoning, but, if the devil is in the details, aren't those the very places where the nuts and bolts processes make the decision makers' policies become real?

 

Edited by spenser1058
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I've long opposed consolidation of Orlando and Orange County, mostly because I believe residents in the sprawl of places like Hunter's Creek and the endless subdivisions of East Orange neither understand nor care to preserve the unique nature of places like Eola Heights and College Park.

However, Linda Chapin, former county commissioner and the first county chairwoman to serve under OC' s charter government (the title was later changed to OC Mayor,) and, more importantly, one of the true grownups among our community leaders (she also served as a UCF exec,) says maybe it's time to rethink:

Common turf: Beyond  honeypots and land banks
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-ed-honeypots-common-turf-linda-chapin-20180718-story.html

From the Sentinel

If Linda says we need to give it a go, I would feel remiss to ignore her request to at least study the prospect.

Edited by spenser1058

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I'm anti complete consolidation, but I'm very pro-aggressive and involuntary annexation.  The city's borders need rounded.

We need to have more logic behind what is city and what is unincorporated Orange County.  In my own neighborhood, the little pocket of Lake Wade being unincorporated drives me insane.  From a practical perspective, the administrative overhead must be insane.  With the annexation of the old trailerpark for the Lucky's Market complex, no one bothered annexing the street of Pineloch, so the county was still going to be responsible for maintenance on it until it got rectified in a further annexation proceeding.  There's dozens of these situations I've noticed that should be fixed.

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1 hour ago, AndyPok1 said:

I'm anti complete consolidation, but I'm very pro-aggressive and involuntary annexation.  The city's borders need rounded.

We need to have more logic behind what is city and what is unincorporated Orange County.  In my own neighborhood, the little pocket of Lake Wade being unincorporated drives me insane.  From a practical perspective, the administrative overhead must be insane.  With the annexation of the old trailerpark for the Lucky's Market complex, no one bothered annexing the street of Pineloch, so the county was still going to be responsible for maintenance on it until it got rectified in a further annexation proceeding.  There's dozens of these situations I've noticed that should be fixed.

You do realize that would mean, assuming you're a homeowner,  that you'd have to start paying city property taxes on top of the county property tax you already pay, right?

Not a change I would look forward to.

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I'd also be anti-consolidation. Competition between governments shows what works and what doesn't work, and the creation of all of the cities and towns throughout the area, with unique visions and culturals.

Just now, JFW657 said:

You do realize that would mean, assuming you're a homeowner,  that you'd have to start paying city property taxes on top of the county property tax you already pay, right?

Not a change I would look forward to.

Thats not quite true. If the city's provide services, they're exempt from the county portion of the same service they aren't utilizing. So if a city provides a fire department within their bounds, the residents don't have to pay the county fire tax. If the city is trying to be frugal (creating the services to take advantage of their higher population density) without providing excess services they very well could end up with a lower millage rate.

 

Here's last years millage rates:

https://www.ocpafl.org/Content/Dynamic/File.dynamic/FID/404878/

As you can see, Windemere and Apopka have lower millage rates then unincorporated Orange County. Winter Park also has a lower rate then most of unincorporated Orange County.

Actually, the highest millage rate is also in Unincorporated Orange County: within the Reedy Creek Improvement District (Disney World). Disney plays quite the game with their property taxes: they have the lowest mill code in the county (City of Lake Buena Vista outside Reedy Creek Improvement District at 14.3453) along with the highest rate of 26.3753, which they utilize to build all of their roads, bridges, etc, I guess building it as a government reduces their liability and might provide some sort of tax advantages by paying a higher tax rate for their realistically private infrastructure.

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1 hour ago, aent said:

Thats not quite true. If the city's provide services, they're exempt from the county portion of the same service they aren't utilizing. So if a city provides a fire department within their bounds, the residents don't have to pay the county fire tax. If the city is trying to be frugal (creating the services to take advantage of their higher population density) without providing excess services they very well could end up with a lower millage rate.

Well, I wish you'd tell the folks I know who live inside the city limits of Orlando and pay both city and county property taxes. They would live to hear about that.

http://www1.cityoforlando.net/PropertyTax/

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6 minutes ago, JFW657 said:

Well, I wish you'd tell the folks I know who live inside the city limits of Orlando and pay both city and county property taxes. They would live to hear about that.

http://www1.cityoforlando.net/PropertyTax/

Thats because the city doesn't provide all the services the county does, and defers to them for that. Services such as schools, tax collection, county roads, libraries, are handled by the county.

If you live in City of Orlando, you pay:

- 4.4347 County Tax

- 4.2220 State School Tax 

- 3.2480 Orange County School District

- 0.3748 Orange County Library

- 0.2724 Water Management District (St Johns for this example)

- 6.6500 City of Orlando Tax

Total: 19.2019

 

If you live in UNINCORPORATED ORANGE COUNTY you pay:

- 4.4347 County Tax

- 4.2220 State School Tax 

- 3.2480 Orange County School District

- 0.3748 Orange County Library

- 0.2724 Water Management District (St Johns for this example)

- 4.048 Unincorporated Orange County tax (covers county fire/EMS/other county services not available in city limits)

Total: 16.5999

In county you pay less because Unincorporated Orange County services are cheaper then City of Orlando Services. Lets say you live in Windemere, you pay:

- 4.4347 County Tax

- 4.2220 State School Tax 

- 3.2480 Orange County School District

- 0.3748 Orange County Library

- 0.2724 Water Management District (St Johns for this example)

- 3.250 City of Windemere tax

Total: 15.8395

So if you live in Unincorporated Orange County and happen to get annexed by the CITY of Windemere, your property tax bill will GO DOWN.

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Were we talking about Windermere?

I thought we were talking about Orlando.

Afaik, if you live in the city limits of Orlando, you pay two tax bills. One for Orange County and one for Orlando.

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I live in the city of Orlando.  I refuse to live in unincorporated because of the lower quality of service.

You pay one giant bill.  The county tax collector splits it up to whomever each part goes to.  To aent's point, the City of Orlando tax replaced the Unincorporated Orange County tax.  You still pay "county taxes" for things such as schools and libraries.  But you don't pay "Orange County" tax AND "Orlando" tax.

Edited by AndyPok1
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This isn’t thought through but I feel like there should be a maximum ceiling on the services counties could provide.  I’m a city guy but I believe our rural neighbors and those who go to suburbia seeking a true withdrawal from the city shouldn’t be stuck paying for the amount of services that Orange County offers.    If the County didn’t provide any parks, sidewalks, neighborhood services etc how much more motivated would some areas be to incorporate or seek annexation while others simply enjoy the freedom from it. 

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30 minutes ago, AndyPok1 said:

I live in the city of Orlando.  I refuse to live in unincorporated because of the lower quality of service.

You pay one giant bill.  The county tax collector splits it up to whomever each part goes to.  To aent's point, the City of Orlando tax replaced the Unincorporated Orange County tax.  You still pay "county taxes" for things such as schools and libraries.  But you don't pay "Orange County" tax AND "Orlando" tax.

Ok, I thought it was two separate bills.

But still, from the above numbers, annexation would cause MY taxes to go up which really makes me dislike the idea.

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32 minutes ago, JFW657 said:

Ok, I thought it was two separate bills.

But still, from the above numbers, annexation would cause MY taxes to go up which really makes me dislike the idea.

Eh, for me, city services are worth it.  Sewer (granted parts of OC are, but vast swaths are septic), Better Trash (especially post-hurricane), Dedicated Police/Fire, Generally better maintained roads, significantly better online meeting minutes of various boards (trying to find info about OC projects is extremely cumbersome compared to pulling up ARB/MPBs from Orlando).  Yada yada.  That's worth an extra $300 a year to me.

Also, in those little not-quite-enclaves, OPD will generally respond, so you're getting the benefit of the service even without paying for it.

Edited by AndyPok1
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6 hours ago, JFW657 said:

Were we talking about Windermere?

I thought we were talking about Orlando.

Afaik, if you live in the city limits of Orlando, you pay two tax bills. One for Orange County and one for Orlando.

My point was that living inside of city limits does not necessarily mean higher taxes, and can sometimes even mean the opposite. (I believe another example with the actual primary city of the county having lower taxes then unincorporated county area is City of Gainesville/Alachua County). Obviously if county and city are merged as far as property tax/millage rates, rates would have to be adjusted, and the proponents of consolidation often argue that by combining services, the overhead can be reduced so taxes, on average, can go down (if someone can find any recent history of this actually happening, I'd be very interested to see it)

 

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Just a note of clarification: OCPS and OCLS are different entities than Orange County Government. Both levy their own taxes.

A side note: OCLS is generally perceived to be one of the best lending library systems in the country and it goes back to their independent ability to levy their own taxes. That's a big reason why many believe Lynx needs the same ability rather than operating at the whim of other local governments.

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3 hours ago, spenser1058 said:

Just a note of clarification: OCPS and OCLS are different entities than Orange County Government. Both levy their own taxes.

A side note: OCLS is generally perceived to be one of the best lending library systems in the country and it goes back to their independent ability to levy their own taxes. That's a big reason why many believe Lynx needs the same ability rather than operating at the whim of other local governments.

Correct.  That's why I put "county taxes" in quotes, because they are assessed to everyone in the county, but do not go to the county.  Bit of a semantic difference when you're talking millages and payments, but important to note.

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