Water-Related News

Winter Haven sets transfer policy, joins cooperative

A clear policy for transferring funds from the utility to the general fund is now in place.

City commissioners voted 5-0 during Monday night's meeting to implement a policy that restricts how much can be transferred from the city's utility fund to the general fund. That limit would be capped at 12 percent or about $3.3 million of the total $25.6 million utility fund, but would not happen right away. The city would decrease the amount of transfer by at least $300,000 per fiscal year until it hit that threshold. It has already been reduced from $6.3 million to $6 million for this fiscal year.

The $3.3 million was about the annual amount of transfer prior to the 2013 crash of the housing market. At that time, the city nearly doubled the amount of revenue it transferred from the utility fund to offset lost property tax revenues. Financial Services Director Cal Bowen said that was the preferred method at the time as opposed to raising taxes.

Putting a clear transfer policy in place was also recommended by Fitch Ratings in a January letter that informed the city of its utility bond rating being downgraded from an AA to an AA-.