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Practicing Fiscal Responsibility

Despite lingering challenges associated with the ongoing global economic recovery, Orange County’s 2013-2014 Fiscal Year budget is balanced, provides all of the crucial government services that citizens have come to expect, and lays a sustainable foundation so that the County can continue to meet the challenges of tomorrow – all while operating on a lean budget. In fact, this year’s adopted budget is $354 million less than the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year modified budget. In addition to providing uninterrupted service, the County is operating at the same staffing levels that existed in 2005, while serving a population that has grown 15 percent. Thanks to an unwavering focus on efficiency, economies of scale, and process improvements, Orange County has implemented staffing level reductions, while simultaneously achieving customer service improvements. Congratulations and kudos to our budget and customer service teams!

Sustainability Initiative
Makes Orange County
“Our Home for Life”

Achieving a more diverse, resilient, and thriving economy, while protecting and enhancing our environmental legacy, will not just happen on its own. It requires long-term planning that simultaneously creates a sense of community and connects the economy, the environment and our social lives. To create the future we envision, I’ve asked our citizens to help guide us on the journey that we began in 2011 through my Sustainability Initiative, making Orange County “Our Home for Life.

When you are seeking to accomplish great change, it’s always wise to consult leaders who have already achieved great success to help show you the way. Mayor Jacobs invited Mike Harcourt, the former premier of British Columbia and a former mayor of Vancouver, to kick-off the Community Sustainability Plan by presenting a seminar at our Board of County Commissioners (BCC) Chambers in February 2013.

Through his leadership, Harcourt helped British Columbia earn its reputation as one of the most livable, accessible, and inclusive places in the world and shared his focus on conservation and sustainable development – along with his resolve to contribute to the transformation of cities and communities.

Orange County’s Sustainability Plan is known as “Our Home for Life” and continues to shape our efforts to create a future in which Orange County is known as the best place in the world to live, work, play, and raise a family. An ad hoc committee appointed by Mayor Jacobs met monthly to review and provide input on the Sustainability Assessment, providing a summary of Orange County’s challenges and opportunities. The committee also provided input on the Community Sustainability Plan, including goals, metrics, strategies, and a detailed implementation plan covering these seven focus areas: arts and culture, built environment, civic engagement, community, education, mobility, and natural resources.

The internal Sustainability Steering Committee oversaw these efforts, including the appointment of sub-committees comprised of government staff and external stakeholders, charged with drafting the Sustainability Plan documents. All recommendations will be presented to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners for final consideration in 2014.

In addition to a full schedule of meetings and workshops, numerous events have celebrated “Our Home for Life.” In July, Orange County held the Lake Mary Jess Water Improvement Project Dedication Ceremony in conjunction with National Lakes Appreciation Month. This drainage and water improvement project treats storm water from Orange Avenue (State Road 527) and surrounding commercial development by redirecting it into a new facility that captures trash, sediment, and pollutants before discharging them downstream to Lake Mary Jess. This project will help to improve the quality of the natural resources in this area, thus creating a sustainable, high-quality neighborhood for current and future residents.

And our sustainability efforts are being recognized! This fall, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) was awarded the 2013 Sustainable Best Practice Award in the government category. Presented by Sustainable Florida and administered by the Collins Center for Public Policy, the award recognizes organizations that exemplify sustainable development and practices in Florida.

OCCC was also awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance Gold (EBOM) certification from The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), an arm of the U.S. Green Building Council. The Orange County Convention Center is now the largest convention center in the world to achieve LEED EBOM Gold certification.

Additionally, OCCC became only the third convention center in the world to achieve a new international sustainability standard–Level One certification with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard pertaining to the Evaluation and Selection of Venues for Environmentally Sustainable Meetings, Events, Trade Shows, and Conferences. This recognition helps event planners and suppliers produce events in a more sustainable manner.

The “Our Home for Life” project continues to be a robust platform for creating a sustainable community. You are encouraged to be part of that conversation through the Orange County Website, PlaceSpeak, a virtual town hall, and through future events on living sustainably.

The Orange County
Experience and Citizen
Planner Academy

Citizen engagement is critically important to Orange County. It is vital that our citizens be involved and every citizen’s involvement results in valuable feedback and input.

In order to foster this involvement, Orange County created the Orange County Experience. For the second consecutive year, the Orange County Experience offered interested citizens an opportunity to better understand Orange County Government. In particular, the program provides a look at the nuts-and-bolts operations throughout the County, including wastewater facility operations; a behind-the-scenes tour of the world-famous reality television series “Dr. G: Medical Examiner;” a “Day in the Life” of our Fire and Rescue personnel; and more. The 11-week experience included 26 registered participants, each of whom left with a better understanding of how Orange County Government works with citizens, visitors, and businesses.

In 2013, a new workshop called Orange County’s Citizen Planner Academy (PDF) was launched to educate the public about the growth management and land development processes in Orange County. These innovative one-day workshops focus on how commercial development, neighborhoods, and other developed areas are created, as well as how citizens can effectively influence the decision-making process. For more information on this program, click here to visit our Neighborhood Preservation Revitalization Division.

Commitment to Transparency
and Accountability Through
Mobile Technologies

In light of continued change within the digital, online, or electronic realm, Orange County is committed to accountability and transparency in our operations. In 2013, under the leadership of Mayor Jacobs, Orange County became the first county government in Florida, and the entire nation, to commit to retaining, storing, and archiving digital communications. Despite the ever-changing complexities of technology and digital communication, Orange County is committed to maintaining open and transparent communications with its citizens and residents.

Providing Transparency
and Vital Data through

In 2013, our new web application OrangeStats, had its grand debut. From employment to housing to consumer costs, it is vitally important that we track the factors that impact our success and quality of life. This resource serves as a valuable dashboard, providing key performance indicators for our citizens and business community, as well as individuals and organizations interested in relocating to Central Florida. The dashboard highlights three main categories: economic activity, public safety, and quality of life. Through OrangeStats, Orange County is providing open access to important statistics.

Purchasing Division
Receives National

The National Procurement Institute (NPI) selected Orange County’s Purchasing Division for the 2013 Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award, which recognizes excellence in procurement by organizations that obtain high scores on standardized criteria. We are very proud of this recognition, because it attests to Orange County’s efficient use of tax dollars and our commitment to the ethical allocation of contracts. NPI's mission is to promote the achievement of excellence in governmental and institutional procurement. Orange County is one of 22 government agencies in Florida and one of only 43 counties in the country to receive this award. Additionally, Orange County is in a prestigious group of only eight agencies that have received this award each year since its inception in 1996.