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LAKELAND, FL (July 25, 2022) — The Lakeland City Commission participated in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Budget Workshop today. The six-hour workshop identified the current budget and outlined the fiscal needs for the 2023 budget.  Most of the workshop and City Commission discussion involved public safety and the 2023 future personnel needs for both the Lakeland Police Department and Lakeland Fire Department. The City Commission did vote 7-0 to have an advertised property tax rate not to exceed 5.7649 mills per every $1,000 of appraised property value.  This millage rate has not been officially set or voted on.  The formal vote will take place during the budget hearings on September 8th and 22nd

The FY23 Budget does assume there will be 12 new fire fighters and 13 sworn police personnel, as well as land acquisition and construction of a new Fire Station on the north side of town (Station 8). The additional firefighters and police officers have a budget impact of 0.3326 mills.  The advertised not exceed millage rate of 5.7649 includes the current 5.4323 millage rate and the 0.3326 increase to cover the cost for additional public safety personnel.  A millage increase of 0.3326 equates to a $33.26 annual increase on a property with a taxable value of $100,000.

The Lakeland Fire Department has identified a need for a northside station based on growth and current run times.  A new Station 8 would reduce response times north of Interstate 4 and provide some relief for Station 3 located at 110 West Bella Vista Street. Chief Doug Riley said, “Station 3 did over 7,000 runs this past year and a new station will help spread some of those runs out while improving service to our citizens on the northside.  We would also like to acquire enough property so the Lakeland Police Department could have a northside substation.”

The Lakeland Police Department has also outlined a need to acquire additional officers based on population growth.  The Department is looking at a phased in approach and has requested 13 new sworn personnel for FY23.  Chief Ruben Garcia said, “This is a great opportunity to hire the right people for the positions available.  This is a well thought out plan with a phased in approach as the community continues to grow. A substation for the north sector of our community would bring the neighborhood policing element to an area that desperately needs it, and it will save travel time for those assigned to the north quadrant of our community.”

The Commission did vote to hold $700,000 of available American Rescue Funds as a placeholder for future project discussion.  This includes requested funding from the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce for a small business incubator and additional funding for the arts community.  The City Commission will have a Budget Hearing that will be open to the public on September 8th that will take place in the City Commission Chambers at 6 p.m.  The FY23 Budget will be finalized at the final Budget Hearing on September 22nd.

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