Kilsheimer and Nelson differ on the budget debate

first_imgShare on Facebook Tweet on Twitter TAGSMayor Joe KilsheimerOrange County Commissioner Bryan NelsonThe Budget Debates Previous articleWill Seat #1 be the swing vote in the budget debates?Next articleKnight’s crusade is to give Apopka citizens a voice on City Council Denise Connell RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Please enter your name here LEAVE A REPLY Cancel reply Support conservation and fish with NEW Florida specialty license plate You have entered an incorrect email address! Please enter your email address here Free webinar for job seekers on best interview answers, hosted by Goodwill June 11 center_img Please enter your comment! Apopka City Hall Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in The Apopka Voice as part of “The Budget Debates” series.AnalysisBy Reggie Connell/Managing Editor of The Apopka VoiceThe Budget Debates: Part Four – Kilsheimer and Nelson bring a vastly different approach to a budget processDon’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” –United States Vice President Joe Biden (2008-2016) There is nothing more important to a city than its budget. It’s a roadmap of how the coming fiscal year is going to go. That’s probably why discussions about budgets, reserves, and how to spend the Apopka taxpayer’s money create such passionate debates on the City Council.And no one will have more impact on a budget than the mayor.Apopka is approximately five months away from choosing a mayor. Incumbent Joe Kilsheimer and Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson are squaring-off in the 2018 Apopka mayoral election, and their approaches to creating a budget could not be further apart.Nelson’s attitude is forged in the experiences he had during the recession years while he was a member of the Florida Legislature. At that time he was forced to make tough decisions, and still watched a healthy reserve evaporate.“Before commenting on the financial condition of the City of Apopka, I think it would be prudent to share my experience in the area of public finance,” he wrote to The Apopka Voice. “Having served in the Florida Legislature during the great recession I understand the value of reserves. During those devastating years, our reserves dropped from FIVE billion dollars to almost zero in 4 short years. I was a member of the Government Operations budget committee and will never forget having to lay-off hundreds of employees; thankfully mostly unfilled positions but to not even know their names before letting them go was a heart-wrenching exercise for me. Each budget cycle we asked the department heads to bring us a budget with a 10% reduction in spending just to keep from depleting our reserves. Our state budget went from $72 billion all the way down to $66 billion in the depths of the recession. I never want anyone at the State, County or Municipal level to have to grapple with that type of financial disaster.”As an Orange County Commissioner, Nelson has also been involved in its budgeting process as well. And it’s this approach that he would like to bring to Apopka.“While serving on the County Commission we have made reserves a top priority and have added each year to the reserves without raising taxes. We have also instituted a $300 million dollar INVEST bond program adding additional long-term capital improvements to the county without touching our reserves. This program only invests in projects that have a 10-year lifespan or longer. Our current reserves are $1.05 billion with a $4.0 billion dollar budget which is just north of a 25% reserve.”Orange County Commissioner Bryan NelsonNelson has watched the budget in Apopka increase, and according to his figures, it is trending towards a reserve amount that concerns him.“For the last three years the City of Apopka’s revenues have increased but expenses have consistently outpaced the additional revenue. To bridge the gap, the city has seen fit to spend reserves while at the same time, increase property taxes in order to meet the ever increasing obligations. It is detrimental to continue to dip into reserves for wants (not needs) and to borrow money for assets with such a short useful life. Without reserves how do you pay for debris removal if FEMA doesn’t reimburse you for several years? Four years ago we had $41 million in reserves with $28 million in unrestricted dollars. According to the September 24, 2017, public notice in the Orlando Sentinel, the city of Apopka recently passed a budget that will essentially erase the reserves and leave a reserve balance of only $3.7 million at the end of this budget year, none of which will be in the unrestricted general fund. This is financially dangerous when one considers that Apopka has a population of 50,000. In comparison, Winter Garden has reserves of $105 million with a population of 38,000 and Kissimmee has a population of 65,000 and reserves of $39 million. Based on current budgets Kissimmee has reserves of 23% of their spending and Winter Garden has 61% reserves based their 2017 spending. When compared to its spending levels, Apopka’s reserves are now less than 3%.His plan to rebuild the reserve to a healthy percentage is a simple allocation of a specified amount each budget cycle.“With spending increasing and reserves plummeting we must first stop digging Apopka into a hole. Allocating $500,000 to $1,000,000 each year to replenish reserves would go a long way toward a healthy rainy day fund.”Over the past two budget cycles, Kilsheimer’s approach is to begin the process at the staff level, and through a series of workshops go line-by-line through each item until it arrives at a budget that all key staff members, department heads, and a consensus of the City Council can agree on. He maintains that a two-month reserve is essential (as outlined in the Government Finance Officers Association standards), but does not believe its essential to go beyond that reserve amount.“The City of Apopka’s policy is to maintain an unrestricted general-fund budget reserve adequate to meet unforeseen events,” he wrote to The Apopka Voice. “That was the case when I took office and it remains the case today. Apopka Mayor Joe KilsheimerThe reserve policy is expressed in Apopka’s approved 2017-18 budget this way: “The City’s practice is to maintain a reserve equivalent to two month’s operating needs in the General Fund and three month’s operating needs in the Utility Fund.” (Page 18). It should be noted that the standard established by the Government Finance Officers Association is exactly the same: two month’s worth of spending.In practice, two month’s worth of spending equals about 16 percent of the City’s general fund budget. In reality, according to the 2017-18 budget, the City’s reserves stand at about 20 percent of the general-fund budget, or four percent above the standard.”Kilsheimer also points out several projects that the City has taken on during his tenure that he believes are essential to Apopka’s future that goes beyond a debate about reserve amounts.“Those numbers are important guideposts, but by themselves don’t tell the entire story in Apopka. Here is some context to consider:In the past two budget cycles, the City of Apopka has budgeted for the staffing and operation of two additional fire stations from its general-fund budget. We are building and equipping Fire Station No. 5 off Jason Dwelley Parkway. We will open Fire Station No. 6 this year in temporary quarters at the new Florida Hospital Apopka in December. These public safety improvements are vitally needed to cover our growing city and so that we can maintain our fire department’s ISO-1 status.Many cities pay for the construction of facilities like new fire stations from an impact-fee fund. These are funds paid by builders and developers when they pull building permits. The purpose of an impact-fee fund is to make new construction bear the burden of providing expanded facilities. In Apopka, we established public-safety impact fee funds in 2017. It will take several years to build up the savings in these accounts to pay for the cost of additional facilities. In the meantime, we have to rely on the general fund, which is supported by all taxpayers.We have also budgeted for additional police officers and planning staff in the Community Development Department. These are all general fund obligations.The attached chart shows that Apopka is in the middle of the pack among similarly sized cities in Central Florida with regards to a reserve policy. At the same time, the chart also shows that the City of Apopka has a lower millage rate than most similarly sized cities in Central Florida. Additionally, Apopka has a larger population and a larger geographic area to cover than its contemporaries.From Orange County’s 2017-18 budget document – available at Orange County’s website – it appears that Orange County’s policy target for unrestricted fund balances is “no less than 7%.” See page 72.”He also believes other revenue streams the City is about to realize will bolster any potential crisis that could threaten the general fund reserves.“Finally, it should be noted the Apopka City Council recently voted to proceed with the sale of surplus land at the intersection of Park Avenue and Sandpiper Road. This sale will return this vacant parcel to the tax rolls, as opposed to generating no property tax revenue today. Moreover, the expected $1.3 million sales price – when put back into the general fund reserve, will boost the City’s reserve ratio in the 2017-18 budget to 23 percent.”To review the Apopka budget for the fiscal year 2017-18, go here. The Anatomy of Fear Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.last_img read more

Bishop speaks out after delivering soul-stirring sermon at Prince Harry, Meghan Markle’s royal wedding

first_imgSteve Parsons – Pool / Getty Images(NEW YORK) — All eyes were on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day Saturday, except for the nearly 14 minutes when the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry made history with a soul-stirring sermon at St. George’s Chapel that is still generating buzz.“It’s been remarkable and very surprising,” Curry said today on “Good Morning America” of the reaction to his sermon.he New York-based Curry, who’s the first black leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States, made history again as the first American to preach at a British royal wedding.Curry said it was Meghan and Harry’s decision, in consultation with leaders of the Church of England, to include him in the wedding.“I didn’t believe it because a member of my staff called and said, ‘They’d like you to preach at the royal wedding,’” Curry recalled. “I said, ‘Get out of here; it’s April Fools. You’ve got to be kidding me.’”Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, wed Saturday at St. George’s Chapel in front of about 600 guests and a worldwide audience of billions.Curry, the head of the Episcopal Church, spoke in his royal wedding address about the power of love and at one point quoted U.S. civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world,” the bishop said Saturday. “Love is the only way. There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love.”King’s daughter, Bernice King, immediately recognized her late father’s words.She tweeted, “#MLK quote at the #RoyalWedding. Your life, teachings and words still matter so much, Daddy. Congrats, Harry and Meghan!”What to know about Bishop CurryCurry was installed as the 27th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church in 2015, according to the church’s official website. He was elected to a nine-year term.A descendant of African slaves, Curry, 65, was born in Chicago, according to his official bio.After attending school in Buffalo, New York, he graduated from Hobart College in 1975, and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University in 1978. That same year, he was ordained as a deacon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, and went on to work as deacon-in-charge at St. Stephen’s in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.Later, he became the rector of St. James’ in Baltimore, until he was elected as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in 2000.Curry is passionate about social justice issues, marriage equality and immigration policy. He has authored three books: “Following the Way of Jesus: Church’s Teachings in a Changing World,” “Songs My Grandma Sang,” and “Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus,” and is a regular speaker in houses of worship and at conferences around the United States and internationally.Married to Sharon Clement, Curry is the father to two adult daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth.Read Bishop Curry’s full royal wedding sermon HERE.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Press release: UK and France to strengthen ties in AI and data

first_img The UK is a digital dynamo, increasingly recognised across the world as a place where ingenuity and innovation can flourish. We are home to four in ten of Europe’s tech businesses worth more than $1 billion and London is the AI capital of Europe. France is also doing great work in this area, and these new partnerships show the strength and depth of our respective tech industries and are the first stage in us developing a closer working relationship. This will help us better serve our citizens and provide a boost for our digital economies. Alan Wilson, CEO of The Alan Turing Institute, said: Digital Secretary Matt Hancock will today visit Paris to announce a package of measures to strengthen ties between the UK and France’s digital industries.The aim is to boost both countries’ digital economies and forge closer links between cutting-edge companies from both nations.Mr Hancock will address a landmark bilateral conference on data and the digital economy alongside his French counterpart, Mounir Mahjoubi. He will confirm the UK’s world-leading centre for AI and data, The Alan Turing Institute, is signing an agreement with the French institute, DATAIA, to promote collaboration between the French and British sectors.It will see the two organisations pursue collaborative research in areas of shared interest – for example, in fairness and transparency in the design and implementation of algorithms.They will also work together to share expertise, paving the way for visiting researchers to spend time at each Institute and hosting joint workshops and funding calls.At the UK-France Digital Colloque – a summit of more than 350 businesses, researchers and officials from both countries – Mr Hancock and Mr Majoubi will also sign an accord on digital government. This will commit to extending their cooperation in the digital sector – on innovation, artificial intelligence, data and digital administration.Mr Hancock will also confirm London-based Entrepreneur First, a beacon for the UK’s excellence in developing tech talent, is to continue its global expansion with a new Paris office. He will also bang the drum for British tech and promote the opportunities for business-to-business collaboration at a breakfast meeting with business leaders.Digital Secretary Matt Hancock said: New agreement will see countries’ leading research centres deepen collaboration National governments sign five-year accord to work together to improve digital services London start-up accelerator Entrepreneur First to open fifth international office in Paris Matt Clifford, EF co-founder and CEO, said:center_img EF exists to enable the world’s most ambitious people build extraordinary companies. It was founded in London, where we’ve already helped spark the development of high growth companies from scratch. As we continue our global expansion we’re looking forward to working with France’s future founders and strengthening the ties between business and investors in both countries. The fundamental goal behind all our research is to build a data and AI enriched world for the benefit of all. In order to do this, it is critical to forge international collaborations and share our knowledge, expertise and ideas with other research centres around the world. The Institute and DATAIA both share a vision for building research in data science and AI which crosses disciplinary boundaries and recognises the societal implications of data and algorithms. It is a pleasure to kickstart this engagement and we look forward to working with them to advance UK and French excellence in this area. Notes to editorsDigital ColloqueThe UK and France are world leaders in the digitisation of public services and are developing a data ecosystem which supports policy makers, corporates and startups using data from across the spectrum of closed, shared and open data.The Digital Colloque will see leading policymakers and industry experts discuss the technologies revolutionizing the world.It follows the commitment made by the President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May during the France-UK Summit in January 2018 to boost cooperation in these fields.This Colloque builds on the success of the inaugural UK France Data Summit 2017 in London and the UK-France Summit in Sandhurst in January 2018, where both countries agreed to foster bilateral discussions on digital issues.It comes ahead of the French presidency of the G7 in 2019 and British presidency in 2021 to promote their shared vision on Global challenges.More than 350 businesses, researchers and officials from both the UK and France are due to attend the Colloque.Entrepreneur FirstEntrepreneur First (EF) was founded in London in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck to connect the world’s most ambitious technologists to the best investors globally. EF’s bespoke programme, the first of its kind in the world, helps outstanding individuals to find co-founders and investment, and build high growth technology companies from scratch.Entrepreneur First, started in London in 2011, is a beacon for the UK’s excellence in developing tech talent, and already has sites in Singapore, Berlin and Hong Kong.Its alumni include Magic Pony Technology, led by Rob Bishop and Zehan Wang, which was acquired by Twitter for £150m. Magic Pony’s founders, Rob Bishop and Zehan Wang, studied together at Imperial College, and met at Entrepreneur First.To date EF – which opened its Singapore office in 2016 and this year opened in Berlin and Hong Kong – has helped over 1,000 individuals build over 150 companies with a total valuation of over $1 billion. EF’s companies have been funded by some of the world’s leaving venture investors in Europe and Silicon Valley.And EF itself has also raised from some of the world’s best investors,including Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn), Demis Hassabis (founder of DeepMind), Greylock Partners, Mosaic Ventures, Founders Fund, Lakestar and more.last_img read more