Glades County commission sets millage rate

The Glades County Commission held the line on property taxes and reflected on a successful year when they held their regular meeting Monday night in Moore Haven.

The board approved the millage at 9.1367 which is lower than the rollback rate, which reflects the rate needed to raise the same amount of property taxes. They also held the line on the millage for the MSTU law enforcement rate at 2.45 mills, less than the roll back rate.

The next public hearing on the tentative budget is September 10.

In business actions, the commission approved a change order for the Glades County Training Facility that on the purchase of $820,700 in construction materials. The county purchased the materials needed for the project and thus, is exempt from having to pay sales taxes.

The county savings amount to $48,894.

The commission approved an annual report that highlighted some of the major accomplishments of the county between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

The accomplishments included $3.5 million in grants for the training center, $6.2 million in state road projects, $250,000 for a storm water project in the business park, $300,000 to help design the infrastructure needed for the America’s Gateway Logistics Center and the Loves Travel center, and $1.154 million in grants to construct the entrance to America’s Gateway.

The infrastructure needed for the Business Park and a storm water management system is in place and the site is ready for development.

Construction of the training center is over 50 percent complete. Although this year the Governor vetoed $1 million for the training center the county continues to work on additional funding sources.

Construction on the entrance to the county business park is expected to begin next month. A traffic signal is included. The estimated cost is $1.2 million.

The county also completed construction of a new Emergency Operations Center in the past year.

Other accomplishments were passage of a revised noise ordinance, a revision of the county cemetery ordinance, and a renewal of the county lease for Alvin Ward Park which will allow for the installation of an air boat ramp.

The County also approved a lease for the old Cypress Knee Museum site in Palmdale. A private group is organizing to develop a management plan for the property.

The county also plans to replace the generators and upgrade the electrical systems at the County Court House over the next few months.

The report also mentioned the contract with Positive Medical to provide EMS services to Buckhead Ridge, Lakeport and north east Glades County. This program is being evaluated to determine if changes to the agreement are warranted.

Goals for this year include adoption of minimum building standards for code compliance, consideration of changes to the tax abatement ordinance to protect the county in the event a business is not in compliance, and more lobbying to obtain state and other funds for ongoing projects.

Large building projects built or in the process of construction in the private sector in the past year include the Diocese of Venice construction of a 4,000 square foot assembly building in Moore Haven, a 2,000 square foot office building for Wedgeworth Fertilizer, a permit for a new Dollar General store, and permits for three new cell phone towers.

The building department reported 537 permits were issued in 2014-2015 with a property value of $14.8 million. That compared to 593 permits in 2013-2014, with a value of $9.3 million.

Public Safety Director Bob Jones reported that new fire hydrants have been installed by the Okeechobee Utility Authority in Buckhead Ridge. He said the county will also have new ISO ratings this year which greatly determines the cost of homeowners insurance.

Road projects under construction this year include County Road 733 or Main Street in Palmdale at a cost of $557,079, CR 720 or Canal Road in Moore Haven at $940,709, Old Lakeport Road $774,382, CR 721 or Loop Road in Lakeport for $1.15 million, Kirby Thompson Road in Muse for $1.79 million and Aspen Blvd at $964,290.

The Commission honored Clara Mae McPherson as she will celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday, Aug. 1.

McPherson was born to Molly and Zach Williams in 1915 in Alabama and moved to Moore Haven as a young girl. McPherson has 10 children, and over 200 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Clara Mae worked for United States Sugar Corporation for many years and is a member of the Friendship Baptist Church of Benbow and the Pentecostal Faith Cathedral in Moore Haven.

Commissioners Paul Beck and Tim Stanley were appointed to the Value Adjustment Board this year. The county will seek a property owner and taxpayer to serve on the board.

Commissioner John Ahern was appointed to represent the county on the South West Florida Early Learning Coalition.

In commissioner comments, Donna Storter Long said Okeechobee County decided not to house prisoners in the Glades County jail. The county also has proposals out to Desoto and Hendry County. Commissioner Ahern said the Glades Correctional Development Corporation reported a loss of $270,000 last month.

The Commission also would like a joint workshop meeting with the Moore Haven City Council and Glades County School Board to discuss future growth in the county.

Special to Glades County Democrat

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