By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4 It was a marathon evening of 4, count 'em 4 meetings. Our City Council Work Session began at 3:00 and ended at about 5:15. We broke for something to eat and reconvened at 6:00 for our regular meeting followed by 2 Community Redevelopment Board meetings which finally finished up about 9:15.
There were a couple of important discussion items on the Work Session agenda.
As you are probably already aware we have had an annual "Fire Assessment Fee" in effect now for several years. Businesses also chip in based upon the size of their buildings. The money collected from the Fire Assessment Fee was used to purchase our 2 new fire trucks which are now in service. They replaced 2 trucks that were about 18 years old. A Fire Assessment Fee can only be used for fire equipment and facilities (not for EMS). Our number of fire emergency calls more than doubled from 2014 to 2017 and that trend has continued through the first quarter of 2018.
We heard an informative presentation about the need to reduce our response times from our current 8 minutes or less in 90% of incidents to get closer to the national standard of responding to 90% of our calls within 4 minutes. To accomplish that we would need to go from our current 2 fire stations to 3. One of our current fire stations is very poorly located and has ongoing safety/maintenance issues. Over the next few months we will need to come up with a plan to decrease our response times for the protection of our residents and their property. More details to come on this important topic.
We also heard a presentation from Waste Management. They are our contractor for trash, recycling and yard waste disposal. By reducing our trash pickups from twice a week to once a week (as many cities already have) we could save substantial money which would lower all of our monthly bills. Waste Management is also willing to install covered trash and recycling compactors in the downtown business district that would have a greater capacity than the current bins and would reduce the smell and pests. More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks but it sounds promising to me.
In both our regular meeting and in our CRA meetings an economic development tool called "High Value Job Creation Programs" were approved. These are grant incentives awarded to business owners who add well paying jobs that pay workers at least 115% of the average local wage. That would be about $41,000 plus benefits. This program has no risk to the City since employers do not receive the grants until they have actually hired and kept their new employees for 2-5 years.
Remember that what you here from me is only my take and does not reflect your City Council as a whole!
I've got a Walt Disney quote for you. Walt said: "Everyone falls down. Getting back up is how you learn to walk."
Thanks for your interest in Mount Dora!
Dr. Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
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