New chair, new spending, new fees on tomorrow’s Board of County Commissioners Agenda

 

Civic activist and noted local attorney Virginia Sherlock details tomorrow’s Martin County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) agenda: The BCC will elect a new chair and vice chair at Tuesday’s meeting. Anne Scott, the current vice chair, is in line to become chair. If John Haddox seeks the vice chair’s post, he will need the votes of three commissioners he recently (and unjustifiably) accused of likely violating the Sunshine Law in one of the angry rants he has become known for initiating from the dais.

 

Staff has set up the usual smorgasbord of spending for BCC approval, including hundreds of thousands of dollars for improving and widening SW Citrus Boulevard, adding a new feature to Sailfish Splash Waterpark (Agenda Item 8A1), and replacing equipment used to maintain the Martin County Golf Course (Agenda Item 8E1).

 

On the Consent Agenda, staff seeks approval of millions of dollars in contracts for the Engineering Department to hand out in piece-meal fashion to multiple contractors (Agenda Item 4B1). BCC approval is required when contracts are cumulatively valued at $1 million or more, but it’s not clear how that requirement is met by sliding a proposed total spending package through on the consent agenda and then giving department staff free rein to allocate the dollars to various contractors over a three- or five-year period.

 

At the same time the Commission is being asked to OK these large expenditures, Commissioners will consider whether to move forward with an ordinance to adopt a “franchise fee” to be added to residents’ FPL electric bills to raise money for unfunded maintenance and replacement of roads, bridges and drainage systems (Agenda Item 7B – pre-set for 2:45 p.m.). A presentation on “deferred maintenance roadway projects” for the current fiscal year (Item 7A – pre-set for 2:30 p.m) is also on tap.

 

There’s clearly a disconnect between residents who face higher taxes and additional fees to pay for “critical” infrastructure needs and continuing staff requests for transfers from reserves and from general funds to pay for decidedly “non-critical” projects.

 

Other interesting items on Tuesday’s agenda include potential settlement of three separate actions filed against the County by Avalon Ventures, LLC, which sued over denial of its application to develop property on US #1 and Seabranch Boulevard. Re-zoning and final site plan approval requests will be presented to the Commission along with a potential settlement agreement that resulted from mediation between the developer and the County (Agenda Items 8B2, 6B, 6C and 8B1 – present beginning at 1:30 p.m.)

 

A report on availability of land at the Martin County Airport for possible re-location of the Administrative Center will also be given (Agenda Item 8D1) – even as construction crews still work on repairs and upgrades to the current Admin Center parking lot at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars that would otherwise be available to reduce some of the County’s “critical infrastructure” backlog.

 

Please let your Commissioners know how you feel about these and other issues by attending the meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday or by e-mailing them at sheard@martin.fl.us,efieldin@martin.fl.us, ascott@martin.fl.us, jhaddox@martin.fl.us, and dsmith@martin.fl.us, with copies to the County Administrator and County Attorney at tkryzda@martin.fl.us andmdurham@martin.fl.us.

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