BCC to consider fire assessment, lawsuit settlement Tuesday

From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: Martin County commissioners will hear a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting regarding a non ad valorem assessment to be imposed on all properties in unincorporated areas of the County to pay for operating expenses and capital improvements related to fire protection services.  
A report prepared by a consultant hired by the County to explore and explain the proposed assessment suggests that a fee of $244.00 could be added to each property tax bill annually, regardless of the value of the property, to fund fire rescue operations.  The assessment would apply to properties which may not currently have any ad valorem tax liability due to the homestead exemption.  
Property owners in Ocean Breeze and Indiantown also could be assessed pursuant to contracts with Martin County to provide fire rescue services to the municipalities. (Properties in the City of Stuart, Sewall’s Point, and Jupiter Island would not be subject to the assessment since the County does not provide fire rescue services in those municipalities.)
Agenda Item DEPT-3 is scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m.
(A new agenda system has been implemented that assigns different designations for agenda items than the previous numbering system.  See information below about how to review individual agenda items.)
Item PH-3 seeks approval by the Commission of a proposed settlement of a discrimination claim asserted in a federal lawsuit filed by a visually impaired citizen who cannot access information on the County’s website.  The settlement includes payment by the County of the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees ($14,500.00) and a nominal payment to the plaintiff ($1,500.00) plus assurance that materials posted to the website will be accessible within 6 months to visually impaired persons using screen reader software.
A similar claim has been filed by a hearing impaired citizen, and the County also is a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by a library system employee who says she was fired because she could not physically comply with a directive that required her to drive for more than 30 minutes to and from her re-assigned workplace despite a disability that made it impossible for her to do so.
Two other lawsuits have been filed in Martin County Circuit Court in the last two weeks – one claiming damages sustained by a recycling contractor resulting from irregularities in operations at the landfill and the other seeking damages for injuries suffered by a motorist in an accident involving a County vehicle operated by an on-duty County employee.
The Consent Agenda features financial reports that are hard to decipher, including the usual Warrant List reflecting $11.25 million in payments made by the County between June 7 and June 22, 2018, without explanation, which is Item CNST-2,
Also on the Consent Agenda are reports on County investment accounts for April 2018 and discounts errors, double assessments and insolvencies for the 2017 tax year.  Items CNST-4 and CNST-5 are best suited to those with some financial acumen.
Item CNST-7 requests the Commission to accept a Quit Claim Deed from the Environmental Studies Council for about 10 acres of property adjacent to the Jensen Beach Impoundment Area. The deed has already been executed but does not meet statutory requirements.
The application to construct a cell tower in the Little Club Condominium community has been withdrawn after the Commission voted to reconsider its previous approval.  The Commission found that the applicant misrepresented facts about the proposal.  The applicant denied any misrepresentation was made but withdrew the application and said it would look elsewhere to construct a tower.  A resolution terminating the Little Club Wireless Communications Facility will be presented to the commission as Agenda Item DPQJ-1.
In other items on Tuesday’s agenda:
– Consent Agenda Items CNST-8, CNST-9 and CNST-10 seek preliminary approval of special assessments to charge property owners for paving SW Honey Terrace and SE Flamingo Drive/SE Karin Street and for solid waste disposal.
– Item PH-1 is a final public hearing for an ordinance establishing standards for locating medical marijuana dispensaries in Martin County and Item PH-4 is a final public hearing for an ordinance to include standards for sporting clay shooting courses.
– Item PH-2 seeks approval of an ordinance related to consumption of alcoholic beverages at County beaches.
Download or view Tuesday’s agenda items at:
Click on the Agenda for the meeting and then select items from the .pdf file for further viewing.  Click on the “text” button to read the agenda item.  Some items will also include additional documents, such as charts or deeds or reports, while others will note that there are “No records to display.” 
Attend the meeting at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday at the Administration Center, 2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart, to express your views on these or other issues or e-mail commissioners at sheard@martin.fl.usefieldin@martin.fl.ushjenkins@martin.fl.useciampi@martin.fl.us, and dsmith@martin.fl.us, with copies to the County Administrator and the County Attorney at tkryzda@martin.fl.us and swoods@martin.fl.us.

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