Lot swaps, tax rate up for approval
July 12, 2017
ISLAMORADA — An amendment to land development regulations allowing the village to swap donated lots for more environmentally sensitive lands and a preliminary tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year are two of the key items scheduled to go before the Village Council for action this week.
The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. July 13 at the Founders Park Community Room, 87000 Overseas Hwy.
The former, a land development regulation, garnered approval among a split vote by the board last month. Mayor Jim Mooney and Councilwoman Cheryl Meads opposed the proposed change.
It was the second time both voted against it, even though it was under first reading at that time.
The proposal was brought back before the board upon the request of Councilman Mike Forster who admitted to mistakenly voting against the change at a past meeting because, according to him, he was on high doses of pain medication from recent oral surgery.
It was initially denied 3-2, with Forster serving as the swing vote on it.
Meads opposed the swap because she questioned why the board, which says affordable housing construction is a priority, would want to trade buildable lots donated to the village for more environmentally sensitive property. Restrictions on the buildable lots would limit the new owner to accessory uses or structures.
Property donated to the village is supposed to be used for conservation, resource protection or affordable housing, according to its regulations.
Meads was also upset that the related lot belonged to Forster’s friend.
“It’s really sad this is the way we conduct business here,” Meads said previously. “This is not public service.”
Village Attorney Roget Bryan said the ordinance would provide universal application and that staff wasn’t shaping it to benefit one person. Councilwoman Deb Gillis said it would be beneficial because it would retire building rights on two lots.
Also, the council is set to take action on a staff-proposed preliminary tax rate of $285.73 per $100,000 of assessed property value for fiscal year 2017-18. The rollback rate, which is the tax rate that would generate the same amount of revenue as the current fiscal year, is $264.59 per $100,000.
Staff, in paperwork, said the proposed rate is for budget preparation purposes and would likely be adjusted downward.
The first budget workshop is scheduled for 3 p.m. July 13, preceding the board meeting. The village has to submit its proposed rate to the Monroe County Property Appraiser by July 21. The two required budget hearings will be held in September.
Other items set for Thursday’s meeting include:
• Action on terminating the contract with Reynolds Water Islamorada, which oversaw construction of the central sewer system and continues to operate it. Village Manager Seth Lawless said that after an internal review he believes ratepayers would be best served going forward with the operation and maintenance being handled internally by the village wastewater department. He is proposing to give Reynolds a 90-day termination notice, pending board approval.
• Action on the final rankings for the engineering firms interested in handling the design phase of the estimated $1.2 million boardwalk replacement project at Anne’s Beach. Marathon-based Weiler Engineering, one of four who submitted bids, was ranked first at a cost of just over $68,000.
• Discussion on ridesharing headed by Forster. In May, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill that makes requirements for companies such as Uber and Lyft uniform throughout the state.
• Recognition of Director of Parks and Recreation and Marina Services John Sutter. He announced last month his retirement will begin July 29.
A full agenda can be viewed at islamorada.fl.us. A stream of the meeting will also be available there.