Please remember my usual admonition that I am just one member of Mount Dora City Council. I don't pretend to represent the council as a whole. What follows are my own thoughts on several of the of the more important items on today's agenda that I thought you might like to read about. We had a very full agenda but after a nearly 5 hour meeting, a great deal was accomplished.
The TV and print news medias began reporting a couple of days ago that City Council would be considering a Settlement Agreement with the owners of the "Starry Night" mural house. As a result of our attorney's preparation for then pending litigation and her review of recent Federal Court "Free Speech" court decisions, the City was prompted to reconsider its position and make another settlement effort which was accepted by the homeowners. The City's Code Enforcement case has now been closed and the associated fines released. The Settlement Agreement calls for the payment of $15,000 for the property owners' legal fees. Unlike what you might have read in the newspaper, this amount and the legal fees for the defense of the City are being covered by the City's insurance carrier. I'm glad to have this matter resolved.
A couple of months ago I told you about a possible deal with Waste Management who picks up our residential trash, recycling and yard waste. We decided to extend their contract until September 2027. There are several important parts to this agreement which begins in October. Waste Management will provide fully automated, unlimited pick up of our trash, recycling and yard waste once per week. They will be switching to quieter and cleaner trucks powered by compressed natural gas. If your pickup day is Monday, you will put your trash can, recycle can and your yard waste at the curb and all 3 trucks will come by to pick your items up on the same day. If your designated collection day happens to be a holiday, everything will be picked up the very next day.
Our residential trash, recycling and yard waste bills will be reduced by $1.94 per month or 9.15%. and that savings will be passed along to our residents. There will be lots of publicity and "education" leading up to the transition. If you'd like a larger trash can, your old can will be picked up and a new one will be delivered to your house. One last thing, eight trash enclosed trash compactors will be installed in the downtown area. With trash and recycling disposal cost expected to rise substantially over the upcoming years I think that locking in those costs will pay off.
About $800,000 worth of stormwater infrastructure improvements will be coming to the Northeast section of town which often floods during major rain events. $750,000 is a stormwater improvement grant we received and $50,000 will come from the NECRA. That's good news for the residents in that neighborhood who have suffered flooding multiple times.
We spent a good deal of time discussing the merits of three related Financing Resolutions. Let's see if I can explain this briefly. We have established a list of our top priority construction projects. Theses include; improving parking in the downtown area, building a new public works building to replace our current crumbling facility and replacing our two current fire stations with three new ones in order to significantly reduce our emergency response times. Now we are taking the first preliminary steps to address these priorities. I need to stress that we did not commit to borrowing any money but we did approve three "Bond Funding" resolutions which could eventually allow the City to sell bonds to borrow the money needed for these construction projects.
Over the next several meetings and in depth discussions we will need to decide which if any of these projects should be tackled. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. While interest rates are still near historical lows we will need to figure out how much money we can afford to borrow and what kind of payments we can commit to making. Do you remember how much you and your spouse agonized over the decision to borrow money to buy your first house? The numbers seemed huge and the decision kept you up at night. Sure you wanted that house but committing yourselves to a 20-30 year mortgage and the monthly payments was agonizing. That's the process we are going through right now. I will keep you updated on this one!
I've mentioned before that Waterman Village is interested in expanding their campus to property across Donnelly St. form their current facility. That project is moving forward and will involve building 327 units on about 37 acres surrounding Fiddler's Pond.
Elie Wiesel is a well known Nobel Laureate. I love his thoughts on this topic. "Always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor never the tormented."
I get excited by the opportunities that we have to make a difference in Mount Dora and I appreciate that you have given me the opportunity to serve you as a City Council member. I think my wife appreciates a little bit of peace and quiet in the house while I'm out of her way! Thanks for the opportunity to serve.