City News Blog


This is the official blog of the City of Lakeland, Florida. Check back frequently to stay up to date with all that going on in our beautiful city!

The City of Lakeland will host a public Budget Hearing on Wednesday, September 5th  from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at City Hall located at 228 S. Massachusetts Avenue.   The meeting will feature a presentation highlighting the upcoming Fiscal Year 2013 Budget and it will allow citizens to ask questions regarding project funding, services and City initiatives.

The event will start at 6 p.m. with a presentation on the FY2013 Budget from City Manager Doug Thomas and Finance Director Greg Finch. The budget presentation will include areas of concern and budget assumptions based on tax levels, service fees and other revenues collected. 

There will also be discussion regarding funding options for a fire station proposed to be built in the southwest Lakeland area on Lakeland Linder Regional Airport property.   Funding options for the proposed station include a possible increase in the property tax rate or an increase in water/waste water rates.

Viewers can also watch the meeting LIVE on television by tuning into the Lakeland Government Network (LGN) on Bright House Networks channel 615 or 107 on the digital tier and Verizon FiOS channel 43. The event will be available in its entirety through the City of Lakeland’s website as a video on demand or streaming on

The City will host a second public Budget Hearing on September 17th at City Hall.  Both meetings are open to the public and citizen involvement is encouraged.  For more information on the Budget Hearings or to watch them live through streaming media, please visit

LAKELAND, FL (August 27, 2012) - The City of Lakeland and Lakeland Electric have scheduled a special community forum to be held at the Lakeland Center’s Youkey Theater on Tuesday, September 4th at 6 p.m. to discuss the emerging issues facing all electric utilities, provide an update regarding public power and outline the current environment for Florida municipal electric utilities.  Lakeland residents are encouraged to attend and the event is free to the public.

Two very knowledgeable industry leaders will present information about the electric industry and public power utilities, closing the event with a discussion on the role public utilities play in the Florida market.  Mark Gabriel is the Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Process for Black and Veatch, working with global clients in the development and execution of strategic initiatives. He leads Black and Veatch’s Pathfinder group in electricity, water, oil and gas and manages its Business Process Group of professionals whose activities include rates, regulatory issues, resource planning, transmission, natural gas and water.  In addition, he leads the company cyber security practice.  His clients include some of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities as well as a number of co-ops, generation and transmission entities, municipal utilities, NASA and the Department of Energy.

Barry Moline, Executive Director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association will present an update on municipal electric issues and opportunities in Florida.  Serving as FMEA’s Executive Director since 1996, he represents Florida’s 34 publicly owned electric utilities before the Florida legislature and regulatory agencies. With a background in the energy industry since the early 1980’s, he has performed oil and natural gas research for the U.S. Department of Energy and promoted renewable energy and energy efficiency for another division of the U.S. Department of Energy. Mr. Moline also served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Guatemala working to conserve firewood. Before joining FMEA, he worked in Washington, D.C. for the American Public Power Association (APPA), the national trade association for municipal electric utilities.

Lakeland Electric is a full service power provider with over 600 full-time employees that serve over 120,000 customers.  The utility is the third largest public power provider in Florida generating over 1,100-megawatts and operating 2,000 miles of transmission and distribution facilities.  Lakeland Electric owns and operates one of the most efficient combined cycle gas units in the United States and has been on the forefront of emerging renewable energy sources.  Based on current Florida Municipal Electric Association data, Lakeland Electric’s residential rates are the second lowest in the state for residential customers as well as the second lowest in Florida for all of the commercial rate classes.

The Lakeland Center is located at 701 West Lime Street.  For more information on this event, please go to or call 863/834-6264.

In response to the closing of Polk County Schools, the Kelly Recreation Complex will open its doors for child care services on Monday, August 27th from 7:30 AM until 5:30 PM for elementary age students. The fee is $25.00 per child and students will need to bring a bagged lunch. For additional information please call 863.834-3284.

The City of Lakeland City Commission will be holding two town hall meetings to discuss the Fiscal Year 2013 budget and possible funding methods for a new Fire Station proposed in the Southwest quadrant of the City.  There will be a town hall public meeting starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 21st at the Sandpiper Golf Club Clubhouse located at 6001 Sandpipers Drive, Lakeland, FL 33809.  On Wednesday, August 22nd starting at 6 p.m. there will be a town hall meeting at Cleveland Heights Golf Course in the Clubhouse located at 2900 Buckingham Avenue, Lakeland, FL 33803.  Both meetings are scheduled 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

There is a Southwest Lakeland Fire Station in the City’s long-term plan to be constructed in 2017.  However, there is a desire among members of the City Commission based on citizen input to start construction in the upcoming year due to a $2 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation that will be available in 2013 to assist in the construction costs.

Citizen feedback is very crucial in both the decision whether to build the new Fire Station and if so, how to fund its capital and operating costs.  Proposed funding possibilities include a property tax millage increase, a reduction of City services or increased dividends from the Water and Wastewater Utilities funded from a Water and Wastewater rate increase. 

The proposed property tax increase is .5 mills.  Currently the City of Lakeland has a property tax rate of 4.1644 mills per every $1,000 of assessed residential property value.  It is proposed that the millage rate be increased to 4.6644 mills per every $1,000 of taxable residential property value in order to construct and man the proposed Southwest Lakeland Fire Station.  There is also interest from some members of the City Commission to increase water and waste water rates to fund the proposed fire station.  Another option is to reduce existing City services to fund the operation costs of the new station.  There is also the option to forgo the $2 million FDOT grant and build the new Fire Station in 2017 when it is in the capital plan.

Lakeland residents are encouraged to attend these town hall meetings because citizen input is very important in the decision making process.  The City is in the closing stages of preparing the FY13 budget document that goes into effect October 1, 2012. The decision regarding the Southwest Lakeland Fire Station is the crucial factor in finalizing the FY13 budget.  Please call 863/834-6264 to receive more information regarding the town hall meetings, the proposed Southwest Lakeland Fire Station or the FY13 budget.