Over this past year, there have been several stand-out questions which recur. In a continued effort to maintain transparency and inform the public, we have built the below Frequently Asked Questions Page for your use.
A very special thanks to the number of residents who contacted our office with excellent questions and feedback. We appreciate you.
What does my local government do?
Orange County is a charter county, meaning it has a written guiding document which outlines our government structure. Learn more about charter counties and non-charter counties here. Thus, when you vote, you may vote for both a municipal officer (like a City) and the County.
Orange County does everything from turning your lights back on and trimming trees to creating high level policy on energy consumption and food access. Please check my policy page for some examples of policies we’ve passed this year. Read our 2021 Year in Review, too!
What is the point of getting involved in local government?
Local government is the government closest to you. They maintain all the things we take for granted, like roads, sidewalks, water, and parks. Something unique to local government is that races are nonpartisan, because “filling a pothole needs to get done regardless of party.” Nevertheless, the decisions local governments make are consequential and impact the way everyone lives in this County. Additionally, local government should be the most accessible to constituents, being your resource for whatever you need.
Who do I contact? I live in Winter Garden, no I don’t? My address says I do!
We here have evolved into a complex structure of multiple layers of government and representation that very few understand.This is a great question. That’s correct- if you live in Winter Garden, I also represent you. While Winter Garden would provide your emergency services and maintenance issues, the County would create and implement policies which may affect you.
You may have a mailing address with a nearby city, designated by the US Postal Service, but may not live inside the city limits. To find out if you live in unincorporated Orange County, you can find your address on the Orange County Property Appraiser’s website. If it is a beige color, you live in unincorporated Orange County. If this is the case, I am your first point of contact for any issue you may have like tree trimming, policy questions, zoning, etc. Email me at email@example.com .
What’s the difference between the morning and afternoon at Board of County Commission meetings?
Every Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting starts at 9:00am, unless otherwise stated. This is where the Board begins the day with an invocation, any proclamations, and the consent agenda. The consent agenda is when the Board votes on a host of items all at once. These items are typically relating to contracts, permit approvals, or other items which do not require a public hearing.
Once the consent agenda has been approved, the Board moves on to Work Sessions and Discussion Items. These two are incredibly similar. However, a work session typically refers to an item which may have received direction from the Board already, like our Tree Protection Ordinance. That ordinance was directed for editing by the Board so now, every time it comes to the Board until complete, it is a work session item that will receive further direction that day but will not be voted on. The Discussion Items typically refer to pieces of the agenda which a Commissioner may want to discuss to see if the Board has any interest in directing staff to research the item further. These are also not voted on.
Once these end, the Board takes a break for lunch and comes back at 2:00pm for public hearings. Public hearings always begin at 2:00pm, but each item does not have a time certain. These items are all voted on and open to the public for specific comments. They can range from petitions to vacate to Comprehensive Plan Amendments. You may have seen these in our newsletters. If you have any questions about them, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you want to prepare for a public comment, find more information here.
Why did the speed limit on my local road change?
The following are the steps taken for any speed limit reduction request with their associated time frames:
Initial request from constituents and coordination with OCSO – submit request into the queue
Data gathering including volumes, speeds, crashes – 2 weeks
Data analysis – 2 weeks
Writing of report – 1 week
Writing of BCC Agenda Memo and approval – 6 weeks
Installation of variable message signs – 2 weeks
Installation/replacement of signs – 3 weeks according to queue
How does the development process work?
Most of what the Board does relates to development. The State of Florida does not allow local governments to issue a moratorium on development and makes it incredibly difficult to deny a development solely on the grounds that an area “should not” be developed. This is why it is so important that we have broad ranging protections and capabilities to ensure every development will be a benefit to the community.
The development process begins with an application by an applicant. This is the most common application process below:
If you see a development coming up on the agenda that you have concerns about, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com so that I may relay them to staff and work with the applicant to improve it according to your standards.
How do I read the budget, and when should I start paying attention?
Budget assembly begins as soon as the last one is approved. Orange County’s Fiscal Year (FY) runs from October 1 to September 31 of the following year. However, public engagement typically begins in July, when we have two budget public work sessions, two days in a row. Each department explains its funding requests and the Board has an opportunity to ask questions. Then, it is officially approved the following September. Last year, I asked for the Animal Services Capital Improvement Project (CIP) to be included for 2022 funding in July. After several discussions, it was in the September budget. This is an example of how a County Commissioner may be able to publicly influence the budget.
We have $5.4 billion in the bank, but 65% of it is restricted spending, meaning it can only be spent on certain things like roads or drainage. These funds usually come from Municipal Service Benefits/Taxing Units (MSBUs/MSTUs) and are paid for by and spent on specific neighborhoods. Some of it comes from things like transportation impact fees, which are derived from development and can only be spent on infrastructure relating to roadways.
Find our current budget here. The budget can get pretty confusing, so I highly recommend reading the “How to Use This Book” page. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Okay, you’ve convinced me. Local government matters. How do I get involved?
If you are a young person, apply for one of our internships. They open right before every semester. You can send your resume and an interest email to email@example.com about one month before the first week of your semester (ex- Email in December for a January internship start).
If you have capacity, you can apply to serve on a County Board here: https://apps.ocfl.net/aware/advisory/board_listing.asp . These are chosen by the Membership and Mission Review Board (MMRB). I highly encourage everyone to apply. You may submit an application and select a variety of boards you are interested in. The MMRB will contact you with further information.