City to apply for $3.5 million loan – West Orange Times & Windermere Observer

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Winter Garden city commissioners approved unanimously a resolution to authorize the city manager to apply for up to a $3.5 million loan under the State Revolving Fund loan program to fund the city’s design of the Crest Avenue WWTF capacity expansion at the Thursday, Dec. 8, meeting.
Community Development Director Steve Pash said the city submitted a request for inclusion to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to receive a planning and design loan for the project. FDEP has provided notification to the city that the project has been placed on the priority list and is eligible to receive a design loan up to a maximum $4.5 million. 
The resolution allows for the city manager to apply for the loan, execute the loan agreement if approved, and pledges water and sewer system revenues for repayment of the loan. 
Repayment of the loan will begin nine months after the design is complete, and the interest rate on the loan is based on weekly average yield of the bond buyer index as well as the 2020 census data, which has been trending below 1%. 
Mayor John Rees had several questions regarding the interest rate, possible increases, impact fees and operating expenses.
Murray Hamilton, senior manager at utility rate financial consulting firm Raftelis, said the current rates for an SRF loan on the wastewater side is less than 0.5%. 
“Obviously, the interest rates are moving,” he said. “We try to be conservative. We estimated it at 1.5%, but we hope that’s a little high.”
Hamilton said the rules at the state level provide the interest rate is typically open until the project is completed. 
“But I will say that that’s in conflict with most of the SRF loans that I’ve seen being executed here over the last couple of years,” he said. “They’ve been a firm stated rate of interest at the time that the loans are executed.”
Commissioners also participated in debate on the second reading of a series of ordinances regarding the annexation, land use designation and rezoning of a property located at 958 Tildenville School Road.
The property, first discussed at the commission meeting Thursday, Oct. 27, is located west of Tildenville School Road, east of Lake Brim Drive, south of Civitas Way and north of Brick Road. 
The applicant has requested to annex into the city, to amend the Future Land-Use Map of the city’s comprehensive plan to designate the property as Low-Density Residential and to rezone the property to Residential District. 
Although the property currently is  vacant, it was at one time occupied by a single-family home that was demolished in 2020. 
Pash said the property was purchased by a new owner, who applied to Orange County to rezone the property to build two homes.
“We were contacted by Orange County and informed the county as well as the owner that they needed to annex into our city (because) they needed city sewer and water,” Pash said. 
Commissioner Ron Mueller, who had voiced concerns with the property at the first reading, reiterated his thoughts.
“The annexation is good work,” Mueller said. “I’m certainly favorable to the annexation…however, the applicant has already advised that the goal is to annex in and then split the lot, and there is where I have some concerns. The splitting of the lot will not conform to R1 …a variance is also not consist use with the other homes that are on Tildenville School Road. … My direction would be to move this to a date to be determined so that we can continue to work with the property owners to see if we can come up with a resolution that would work favorably to everybody.”
Although Mueller made a motion to postpone the ordinances, it died without a second.
Commissioner Mark A. Maciel made a motion to approve the ordinances, and the commission approved the readings 4-1, with Mueller dissenting. 

  • Commissioners discussed the success of Winter Garden’s ’Tis the Season holiday events, which attracted more than 93,000 attendees participating in the first weekend. The signature event, Light Up Winter Garden, brought 25,000 attendees for its 35th year.
  • The Winter Garden City Commission approved unanimously an ordinance amending the city’s charter to authorize the commission to determine whether the city manager is required to be a resident of the city.
  • Commissioners approved a change order for Task Order 1 for construction manager at risk services contract for the Crest Avenue WWTF Upgrades to Atkins in the amount of $485,196. 
  • The City Commission approved the purchase order for Task Order 1 for construction manager at risk services contract for the Crest Avenue WWTF Upgrades to Wharton Smith Inc. in the amount of $398,558. 
  • The Winter Garden City Commission approved the purchase of one new street sweeper from the Environmental Products Group utilizing the sourcewell cooperative purchase contract in the amount of $302,594.80. 
  • Commissioners approved authorization by the city manager to declare vehicles and equipment as surplus and approve the sale or disposal as needed.
  • The City Commission approved the purchase of two new rescue ambulances for the fire department from REV Technical Center in the amount of $339,480.
  • The commission approved an agreement for acquisition of the property located at 173 10th St. from Bennie McRoy Holmes.
  • Commissioners approved the site plans for 805 Mary’s Park Place, Mary’s Park Place Warehouse; 21 W. Smith St., Smith & Boyd Commercial Building; 1680 Marcel Drive, CFP Medical Office Building; 12324 W Colonial Drive, Commercial Building.
  • The City Commission approved the final plat at 1577 & 894 Beard Road for Winter Garden Self Storage, and at 999 Tilden Oaks Trail to create 10 single family lots. 
  • The commission approved the special event for the fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, with street closure.
  • Commissioners postponed board appointments for the Planning and Zoning Board, Code Enforcement Board, and Winter Garden Police and Firefighters Pension Board to Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023.

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Annabelle Sikes is the news editor at the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.  Her past…
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