By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
I'm happy to give you this update and I am just one of seven city council members and not its spokesman. I try to be unbiased in my reports, but what you're receiving is strictly from my perspective.
As promised I have done some research and I'd like to give you my best thinking on the proposed FY 17-18 Mount Dora city budget. Readers please understand that as always, I am only speaking for myself and I don't mean to imply that my report to you represents City Council Council as a whole. I'm only one of 7 members.
I think it's safe to say that no one likes higher taxes. There had better be a sound rational and a real need for raising the millage rate or I'm not interested. The current 5.9970 millage rate has been in effect since 2014. Our city staff has recommended raising that to 6.50 mills for the upcoming fiscal year 2017-18 budget. They have crunched the numbers and they believe that we will need extra dollars to fund about 11 proposed new positions.
As your city council has worked through a very exhaustive budget review process I have learned that we have been operating with about the same number of staff members in our Public Safety Department in 2017 as we had back in 2007 when our population and the number of visitors to Mount Dora were considerably lower. We are all concerned about increased crime. To that end, we are considering hiring 4 additional sworn police officers, 2 additional part-time police communications dispatchers, and 2 additional fire fighters. Those 8 new public safety staff members would go along way toward our goal of keeping our citizens safe and our property secure. We have about 25% more people now, lots more roads and neighborhoods to patrol, more need for fire/rescue services, etc. More growth is expected and our city will continue to grow as the Wekiva Parkway opens soon and the Wolf Branch Innovation District begins to develop. Those new homes and businesses will be paying taxes too but we've got to be ready for them.
Other things that need to be done include much needed enhancements to our urban forestry efforts to care for our existing trees and provide for appropriate future foliage. We also need to continue to plan for the future of our fire and police departments and complete a long overdue parks and recreation long range planning study. Proper planning is essential. I consider it an investment.
Here's the real question...What will all this cost me? I've made some calculations on my home and my tax bill. You probably received you "TRIM Notice" from the Lake County Taxing Authority in the past few days. The "Taxable Value" is the important number to look at. In my case the Taxable Value is $199,931. Let's round that up to $200,000. My Mount Dora taxes would increase by about $76. if our millage rate goes up from the current 5.9970 to the proposed 6.50 mills.
Folks with a home valued at $60,000 would see about a $5 annual increase. If your house is Tax valued at $300,000, your Mount Dora taxes would go up by $126. Remember it's not what you think your house is actually worth, it's that Taxable Value amount that your taxes are base on.
Building a budget is a complex process. New health insurance rates, a sudden change in fuel prices or any of a hundred other moving parts can affect our calculations. We will continue to tweak the numbers over the next few weeks and finalize the process on September 19th.
I hope this helps you to be able to calculate your own tax bill. If you have questions you can also contact the City of Mount Dora Finance Department.
I saw today's quote at tobymac#SPEAKLIFE; "Being an adult is often like folding a fitted sheet". I agree.
Perhaps the best was saved for last. After 310 days, Neil, the Lake County Animal Shelter’s longest resident, got a festive sendoff surrounded by teary-eyed shelter staff and volunteers.
His biggest fan and advocate, volunteer Sue Keehn Richter, had the bittersweet honor of walking Neil out of the shelter for the last time as he went to rescue with Partnership for Paws, Inc., a 501c3 non-profit based in Grand Island, Florida. After receiving some treats from his favorite spot, Dunkin Donuts, Neil went on his “freedom ride” to his new foster home to learn proper manners with Dare2Train.
To help a shelter pet like Neil, stop by the Lake County Animal Shelter at 28123 County Road 561, Tavares, call 352-343-9688 or visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/LCAS.
UPDATE: ONE ARREST HAS BEEN MADE SINCE ORIGINAL PUBLICATION OF ARTICLE EARLIER TODAY. Mount Dora police have issued warrants for the arrest of 20-year-olds Kederick Wayne Hunter and Gabriel Dejkunchorn relating to the shooting in a Walmart parking lot on July 21.
Dejkunchorn was shot in the knee. A third man, Christian Watson , was the victim shot in the back.
At the time of the shooting, all three men were sitting in a car in the Walmart parking lot. Watson was in the driver’s seat, Hunter was in the front passenger seat, and Dejkunchorn was in the back seat, behind Watson.
Dejkunchorn was holding a gun when it went off. He shot himself in the knee and the bullet then penetrated the front seat and hit Watson in the back. Watson ran from the car to seek help. Hunter ran off after the shooting, but eventually came back to the scene and told investigators he wasn’t there at the time of the shooting. Dejkunchorn also claimed someone else shot them. Only one shot was fired. Watson will not be charged with anything. Investigators determined there were no other people involved in this shooting
Hunter and Dejkunchorn each have an active warrant for their arrest and will face one charge each of False Reporting during the Commission of a Crime. Police do not believe they are still in Mount Dora. If anyone knows of their whereabouts, they are asked to call Mount Dora Police or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
UPDATE: Kederick W. Hunter was arrested later on 8/19/17
Dejkunchorn was holding a gun when it went off. He shot himself in the knee and the bullet then penetrated the front seat and hit Watson in the back. Watson ran from the car to seek help. Hunter ran off after the shooting, but eventually came back to the scene and told investigators he wasn’t there at the time of the shooting. Dejkunchorn also claimed someone else shot them. Only one shot was fired. Watson will not be charged with anything. Investigators determined there were no other people involved in this shooting Hunter and Dejkunchorn each have an active warrant for their arrest and will face one charge each of False Reporting during the Commission of a Crime. Police do not believe they are still in Mount Dora. If anyone knows of their whereabouts, they are asked to call Mount Dora Police or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
There are almost 3,000 stories of Lake County Animal Shelter pets finding loving homes this year. The shelter has joined the nationwide “Clear the Shelters” pet adoption drive on Saturday, August 19.
During the event all dog and cat adoptions are free and each adopter will also receive a $200 pet care voucher and a goodie bag containing a tennis ball, treats and more (while supplies last).
The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the shelter located at 28123 County Road 561 in Tavares.
More than 53,000 pets nationwide were adopted during last year's event. Hundreds of shelters in 20 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico will waive or discount fees as part of the one-day adoption drive.
By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
I'm happy to give you this update on the August 15 Mount Dora City Council work session and regular meeting. I am just one of seven city council members and not its spokesman. I try to be unbiased in my reports, but what you're receiving is strictly from my perspective. There were 2 meetings this evening. The first meeting beginning at 4:00 p.m. was a "Work Session" discussing the proposed FY 2017-18 Capital Improvement Projects budget. This is another part of the ongoing budget development process which will culminate at the September 19th meeting. Let me back up for a moment....
There has been a lot of chatter over the past few days spawned by a recent newspaper article alleging that Mount Dora City Council is recklessly considering a 25% millage increase. Our current millage rate is 5.9970. Regular readers of this blurb might recall that in my report to you following the July 26 meeting I took great pains to explain that we had voted unanimously to TENTATIVELY set the FY 2017-18 millage rate at 7.0 in order to allow ourselves latitude as we continued to refine the budget over the next 2 months.
I said then that it was highly unlikely that the final rate would be that high but that it is very difficult to increase the millage rate after August 1. The tentative millage rate can easily be lowered right up to the final budget vote which is likely to be on September 19. That is exactly what happened. I've asked for some additional information from our Finance Department which will help me to more accurately explain the likely outcome. I will send out a "Special Edition" just as soon as I have it! Thanks for your patience.
After the budget work session ended we began our regular meeting at 6:00. The Fire Department held a "Pinning Ceremony" as 3 fire fighters had their badges pinned on them by family members. The women and men who serve our community as members of our fire department are special people. It was thrilling to see their joy and pride. They have difficult and sometimes dangerous jobs and we appreciate everything that they do to keep us safe.
Two new preliminary plats were approved tonight for separate residential developments. 26 new lots were preliminarily approved on the east side of Bridgeport Bay Circle at Lakes of Mount Dora and 22 new lots will be coming on line at Summerview at Wolf Creek Ridge. Mount Dora continues to grow.
We also began the process of designing a new sewage lift station to serve the downtown area. It will be located near the corner of Alexander St. and 5th. Ave. That new lift station is needed because that part of town has just about outgrown the current lift station's capacity. We don't want to risk a spill of sewage anywhere especially near Lake Dora.
We've asked Lake County's permission to reduce the speed limit on 5th. Avenue from 30 mph to 25.
I have 2 quotes for you. The first is; "Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers." by Andrew Card. The other is from Mark Twain who quipped; "If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed."
Thanks for caring about our wonderful city! Marc Crail District 4 City Council Rep.
Mount Dora police are investigating a shooting that happened late Monday evening.
Around 10:29 p.m., police responded to 1744 Strathmore Circle in reference to a shooting. Upon arrival, police found an adult male who had been shot. He was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital in stable condition. He was alert and oriented but refused to speak to officers.
A second male at the scene was cooperative, but invoked his rights and has not spoken with detectives at this time. A gun was recovered for evidence. The men are neighbors who live across from each other and are acquainted with one another. At this time, there is no motive and no arrests have been made. This incident remains under investigation and no further information will be released.
Mount Dora police are looking for individuals who robbed a bank this afternoon. Police received an alarm around 11:50 a.m. about a robbery at the BB&T Bank located at 909 North Donnelly Street. Four men entered the bank armed with handguns and demanded cash.
The masked men left with an undisclosed amount of cash, got into a black SUV with a fifth person inside, and took off. Within 5 minutes of response, officers found a black Saturn SUV abandoned at 10th Ave and Helen Street. The suspects fled in an unknown direction and have not been located.
The vehicle is believed to be stolen out of Seminole County and involved in the bank robbery. Detectives are obtaining a search warrant.
Mount Dora police are actively investigating along with assistance from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.
Mount Dora Middle School and Mount Dora Highschool were on a modified lockdown, but that has been lifted and classes have resumed as usual.
If anyone knows anything, they are asked to call the Mount Dora Police Department or Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS.
Here are videos of the bank area provided by the city, if surveillance video becomes it will be added to this article.
On May 11, 2017 and August 02, 2017 the females pictured below used victims' debit cards to withdraw money from two Mount Dora bank ATM’s.
In both cases the suspects called the victims and identified themselves as an employee of the victim’s bank. The suspects advised the victims they needed to have their debit card replaced. The victims were instructed to leave their old debit cards in a specific location at their residences. The victims did as instructed and the debit cards were retrieved by the suspects.
Utilizing the PIN provided to the suspects by the victims, the suspects were able to withdraw cash from two banks in Mount Dora. If you have any information as to the identity of these women you can call the Mount Dora Police Department at 352-735-7130. Residents are reminded to never give financial information or PINS over the phone or email.
Providing a forever-home to furry friends in need just got easier. “Hot Dogs, Cool Cats” is a free pet adoption event to be held at Lake County Animal Shelter in Tavares on Saturday, August 5. The event is from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with free hot dogs and popsicles between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
“It is of course important when selecting a dog or cat for your family to ensure the particular animal is the right fit for your home and lifestyle,” added Sheahan. “Our staff and volunteers are happy to work with shelter visitors to find the perfect match for your household.”
Lake County's mission is to have all savable animals adopted or rescued. The public can help by fostering, adopting or sharing the adoptable pets on social media.
The event is sponsored by L.E.A.S.H., Inc., a non-profit agency based in Lake County that directly benefits shelter animals in need. Lake County Animal Shelter is locatedat the shelter located at 28123 County Road 561 in Tavares.
By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
I'm happy to give you this update on the June 20 Mount Dora City Council Meeting. I am just one of seven city council members and not its spokesman. I try to be unbiased in my reports, but what you're receiving is strictly from my perspective.
City Council meets for its regular sessions on the first and third Tuesdays of each month. Since the first Tuesday this month happens to be August 1, tonight was our first meeting of the month.
Our agenda tonight was relatively light. I've selected a few items to highlight for you.
We may have been the first city in Florida to pass a resolution entitled "Support of Home Rule in Florida". Home Rule has been part of the Florida constitution for about 50 years. Home Rule means that unless an item is specifically deemed to be covered by State Law, it is up to Florida cities to decide what is best in their respective jurisdictions. The theory here is that the best government is local government because it is the closest to the people. That notion has been under attack by some in our State Legislature who claim that the State is better able to make decisions for the citizens. We hope that dozens and possibly hundreds of other municipalities will follow suite and flood our Governor and other elected state officials with resolutions in support of protecting Home Rule in Florida.
We also joined with several other Lake County cities in opposing the reorganizing of our Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization or MPO. Our MPO is made up of all the cities in both counties and both Lake and Sumter County Commissions. It is responsible for coordinating state transportation projects (highways, trails, etc.) in our 2 county area. It helps us get our fair share of state transportation funding. If the Lake -Sumter MPO is dissolves as some in Sumter County would like, we would either need to join another MPO (possibly Orange County/Orlando) where we would be a small fish in a very large pond or go it alone as a Lake County only MPO. This should sort itself out in the next month or two.
We heard a report on the ongoing repairs to the storm damaged 4th Ave. docks. It turns out that the contractor who built the docks used substandard lumber. Several years in the water has damaged the dock's structure and must be replaced. That company is now defunct and the construction bond (insurance that the project would be completed on time and according to the required specifications) has expired. The statute of limitations (4 years) has passed. This is unfortunate and frustrating but we have taken steps to put new insurance requirements in place to guard against future losses.
We heard about the Back to School day event sponsored by the Mount Dora Police Department on Saturday. About 450 kids received back to school backpacks filled with school supplies. Bikes and other needed items were also provided along with lunch. Dozens of volunteers donated their time and money to help Mount Dora kids thrive this school year. How cool is that? Remember that school starts in the next week. Pay attention to children walking to/from school and be sure to stop for blinking school bus lights.
Your quote for today is from Powerofleadership.com by Jon Gordon.
"Pessimism says "No Way", Realism says "It's a hard way", Optimism says "We'll find a way."
I guess I prefer to be an optimist! Thanks for the opportunity to serve.