It’s a great time to be in Lake Wales! As the City gears up for 2023, we look forward to a future of progress and sustainability. Our mission is to make Lake Wales better and more beautiful year-after-year.
Our fiscal-year budget for 2022-23 includes several key priorities designed to enhance City services and programs.
This year, we were able to reduce the property tax millage rate to the lowest rate in many years, while maintaining fiscal health, investing in our reserves and preparing for the future.
A substantial amount of streets are scheduled to be resurfaced in 2023. Our pavement management program, created in 2019, is fully funded for the first time this year. We have an inventory and current condition rating of most streets in the city that will guide our resurfacing efforts.
Pedestrian safety is a priority. We’ve increased the general sidewalk maintenance budget and have allocated $2.5 million for new sidewalk construction in the historic core. Plans include rehabilitating existing sidewalks and constructing new sidewalks along select streets.
We will grow the city responsibly. With your help, the City is on track to complete a vision plan that will help us guide land development in the City’s utility service area in unincorporated Polk County. We will know what land areas to protect, and which land areas are suitable for development as it relates to a land owner requesting property annexation.
Economic growth is key to our success as a city. We are formulating a retail recruitment strategic plan to recruit restaurants, hotels and retail businesses. We will also be developing new programs to incentivize large-scale businesses to relocate to Lake Wales.
Enhancements to public safety include the addition of five equipped law-enforcement officers and one property and evidence technician. The fire department will receive a new state-of-the-art fire truck.
Planning for a better parks system, sports facilities and recreation activities are in the works as we initiate the comprehensive parks and recreation master plan.
It’s important we protect and preserve the character of our community. We have added an additional code compliance officer this year to help maintain the community’s appearance.
The City and CRA will continue to implement the award-winning Lake Wales Connected urban design plan which includes: continuing to expand the affordable housing program; grand opening of the Park Avenue Connector Trail; groundbreaking of the Northwest Neighborhood Pedestrian and Sidewalk Improvements project; and groundbreaking on the Park Avenue Streetscape project and redesign of Market Plaza downtown.
Continuing to provide superior customer service and increasing the overall effectiveness as a government organization is a top priority of mine for 2023. The City of Lake Wales 2022 Community Survey yielded positive results. Customer service satisfaction rates 22 percent above the national average.
As we continue building on the legacy of the city’s founders with our “Lake Wales Connected” plan, it excites me to see 2023 as a transformative year.