The Clewiston News

Commission raises garbage fees, possibly mosquito fees

City Commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance that would establish a mosquito control fee by resolution at their last regular meeting held Monday, Sept. 21.

The resolution makes it possible to adjust the rates, with commissioners contemplating increasing the rate, possibly by $1. A public hearing to approve the new rates was set for Oct. 19.

The commission also approved a resolution to increase residential garbage collection fees from $19.55 to $19.95 per month and commercial rates from $8.50 to $9.50 per month. It also increased special collection rates from $4 to $5 per month. Individuals may qualify for the special fees if the applicant and all members of the household have a gross annual income of less than $10,000.

The new fees reportedly increase annual revenue to $44,364.

Lobbying for Clewiston

The commission approved hiring a lobbyist to fight for city interests in Tallahassee this coming fiscal year. The lobbyist will be paid no more than $25,000 and will focus on obtaining money for public safety, among other things.

The majority of the commission thought having a professional with a single focus fighting for the city’s interest in Tallahassee would be beneficial and would pay for itself in the form of money for the community, but Commissioner Julio Rodriguez said the $25,000 should be spent elsewhere. The commission voted 4-1 in favor of hiring a lobbyist. Commissioner Rodriguez voted against the motion.

Property and Liability Deductibles

At the request of the commission, the city’s insurance carrier, Public Risk Management (PRM), provided quotes for property, liability and workers compensation at higher deductibles.

The quotes included premium deductibles at $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000. The city currently pays a $1,000 deductible for property, liability and workers compensation insurance claims, but by paying higher deductibles, the city could actually save money longterm.

Based on the average claims made in the past six years, PRM calculated what the city would have paid and saved at each deductible rate.

Commissioners concluded the city could save the most by changing its property and liability deductibles to a $10,000 premium.

A motion was made to change its property and liability deductibles but to leave the workers compensation the same. It was also suggested the city put away $52,000 of realized savings into a contingency fund to pay for any potential claims.

Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the motion. Citing a desire to put $75,000 into the contingency fund, Commissioner Sherida Ridgdill voted against the motion.

Zoning by Variance

Residents raised concern about the issue of zoning by variance during a public meeting Monday night.
Commissioners heard a resident’s request to allow a variance to the standards of a property located on Central Avenue. The resident was looking to build two duplexes on the property, and because of the lot size, asked to reduce square footage requirements of four units from 12,000 square feet to 10,500 square feet and reduce the rear yard setback from 20 feet to five feet.

Several residents, including two local lawyers and a real estate agent, spoke out against the applicant’s request. Attorney Anthony Perez said zoning by variance or special exemption is not a good process as it allows for mistakes. Attorney Melanie McGahee said the city has codes for a reason and they should be followed. Realtor Laura Smith said four units at 10,500 is essentially a kennel for humans and said the applicant’s request is about the bottom line only.

Commissioners voted to send the plan back for review by the Planning and Zoning board, as the plan presented to the commission had been changed since it went before the P&Z board initially. Though the new plan stemmed from suggestions made by the P&Z board, which did not approve of the applicant’s first proposal, it will again be reviewed by that board and come back before the commission for final approval.