By Marc Crail Mount Dora City Council, District 4 Representative
Regular readers please pardon this often repeated explanation that what follows are my impressions of the City Council meeting and do not necessarily reflect City Council as a whole. I am only one of seven members.
There were actually 2 meetings (today). The first was a 3:00 City Council Work Session which I could not attend due to my work schedule. Several items were discussed during the work session including; an economic development update, a final report on the results of a fire department study, a Fire Assessment Fee update, a report on street lights and a discussion on the operation of Air B&B's in Mount Dora. Work Sessions are opportunities for City Council members to discuss topics in public but no actions were taken.
The regular meeting began at 6:00 p.m. There were presentations on the recent Patriot Cruise which is a wonderful annual event to honor vets and there was also a presentation awarding the city a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
Next up was a presentation by representatives of Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA). This is the company we contracted with in May to offer water and sewer line coverage to Mount Dora residents. Over the past few weeks homeowners have received 2 poorly worded letters from SLWA complete with the city's logo encouraging them to sign up for this voluntary program. At our last meeting several city council members, including me, reported complaints from residents regarding the content of the letters, as well as their discomfort with the idea of selecting one vendor to provide this kind of warranty.
Although SLWA is a BBB A+ rated company that offers similar warranties in 450 cities and claims a 98.6% customer satisfaction rate, I believe that their lack of proper coordination with the City and the content of their letters were botched to the point that no amount of corrections can repair the damage done. I tried to make a motion to end our contract with SLWA, but I was told that this was just a discussion item. Instead, Mayor Girone asked for a consensus of the members that SLWA confer with city staff to re-boot the program. District 3 council member John Tucker and I voiced our opposition to that plan, but the 5 other members agreed with the mayor. I was able to get assurances that we will be able to vote on this at our next meeting on January 2 and I was assured that no more letters from SLWA will be coming between now and January 2.
We approved 10 resolutions on a variety of topics. In my mind, the most significant dealt with a project that will eventually interconnect our reclaimed water lines with Apopka's. Apopka has massive reclaimed water storage capacity. At certain times of the year particularly in the late winter and spring (dry months) we have a shortage of reclaimed water which is utilized for sprinkling lawns in several areas of the city. In order to provide for a reliable reclaimed water source as our city grows purchasing reclaimed water from Apopka when it is most needed at a favorable rate is a good idea. Another resolution dealt with accepting significant funding from Saint Johns River Management District to help offset the costs and another approved the contract to design the project.
Several other resolutions we approved will correct a variety of storm water problems around town and enables us to provide for an additional lift station to serve the Wolf Branch Innovation District.
My "quote" of the day comes from, of all places, a sand sculpture sited on beach on the gulf coast. I don't know the author but I agree with the thought; "There is no elevator to success...you have to take the stairs".
I hope you and your family will enjoy a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah and a fantastic New Year. Thanks for allowing me to be your District 4 City Council Member. I think that despite some inevitable bumps in the road, we are headed in the right direction!