I have several items from the May 19 City Council Meeting that I think are important to share with you. This report is coming just from me and is not necessarily representative of City Council as a whole.
Hubbard Construction Company owns about 180 acres of land located on the west side of US Rt. 441 and south of SR 46. That property has been used for many years now as a construction materials landfill. It accepts solid waste (not garbage) generated by construction projects, mostly road projects. It is currently located in unincorporated Lake County but it borders Mount Dora. Hubbard is beginning the process of asking that this property be annexed into the City. We passed a preliminary resolution that is a precursor to annexation. When that process is completed we will generate an estimated $170,000 a year in "host fees" for Mount Dora. An added benefit for the City is that after the construction landfill is full it could be donated by Hubbard to Mount Dora for use as park property.
The economic effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic are going to be serious for our city budget over the next few years. Our state and local tax revenues will undoubtedly be reduced. To begin dealing with that anticipated revenue shortfall, City Manager Robin Hayes has established what she calls a Budget Stabilization Account. She asked each department to "give back" a minimum of 5% of their budgets. That has resulted in a little over $1.3 million that will be available for use when we need it most. That's good management in my opinion.
Earlier this week Mount Dora, Tavares and Lake County partnered up to submit a federally funded BUILD Grant for the purpose of buying railroad tracks right-of-way property and building a "rails to trails' bicycle and hiking trail that would run from downtown Mount Dora west to downtown Tavares and east through Lake County. This is a very important tool for tourism and economic development. The partnership makes our grant application very viable. We won't know for several months if our grant is funded but it is an exciting possibility.
In another attempt to be proactive we had a good discussion about our plans to build 3 new fire stations over the next few years. In November of 2018 we sold $21.74 million of bonds to cover the anticipated costs to purchase the necessary property and to fund the construction costs. This has been a years long process involving over 700 community members' input, an extensive study and the goal of reducing our EMS and Fire response times to under 4 minutes. We are working to find consensus as to how best to proceed during this economic downturn. We heard form the Fire Chief and the City Manager and we are prioritizing our needs so that we can continue to make progress toward this highly desirable but expensive goal. Our top priority is to replace our current fire station 35 that is in poor condition and located on the extreme west side of town. I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me on this topic as we go forward. We're trying to balance public safety needs with economic reality.
I came across a quote for you that reflects the unusual times we are living in. It is by L. P. Knost. "Life is amazing, and then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and the awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breath in the amazing, hold on through the awful and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heart-breaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful."
Thanks for the opportunity you have given me to be a part of Mount Dora City Council. Thanks too for your interest in our community.