By Marc Crail District 4 City Council Representative
Mount Dora City Council held two meetings on September 5. The first meeting concerned the 2019-20 budget and the second mainly focused upon a proposed new residential development called "Cottages on 11th". I'm reporting to you from my own personal perspective and not as a spokesperson for City Council as a whole.
Our budget meeting was held to meet the legal requirements to pass resolutions to set the TENTATIVE millage rate for FY 2019-20 and to define the amount of the proposed budget. There is a state required timeline and this is another step in the long budget building process. I need to stress that this was not the final step of adopting the budget. That final budget adoption will take place on Thursday September 19 at 5:30 p.m. that will culminate a six month long journey that began back in March involving many hours of discussions, asking thousands of questions, and resulting in getting seven divergent council members to agree on the "right" budget for our city. That's how good government works.
Important city needs were left unmet in previous years mostly due to a long and deep recession. We've been playing catch up during my four years on city council. Progress has been made but we still have miles to go and our "rainy day" reserves are nowhere near adequate in my estimation. I favor keeping our millage rate the same as it has been at 6.3 mills. I consider myself to be a fiscal conservative and to me that means that we should restrain our spending when we can but also that we must provide for our city's needs in a fiscally responsible way. There were rounds of applause from the audience when token millage rate cuts were suggested, but I remain unconvinced that doing so would be prudent. After another long debate the tentative millage rate resolution remains at 6.3 mills after a 5-2 vote with council members Tillett and Stile opposing and the proposed budget amount being $98,800,000 on a 6-1 vote with Ms Tillett voting no. The final millage and budget amount for FY 2019-20 will be determined on September 19.
The second meeting was dominated by conversations about a proposed 27 home residential development off 11th Ave. The developer would like a zoning change from R-1A to PUD. This would allow smaller lot sizes in exchange for higher end architectural designs including garages in the rear of the homes. I thought that the many community members who spoke, as well as the developer, made excellent points. There was a great deal of unanimity among city council members who expressed concerns that setbacks, landscaping, parking, drainage, traffic on 11th Avenue and the number of houses need to be addressed. I sensed that there is a willingness to compromise in order to resolve these issues so that this exciting project can move forward. We approved the Preliminary PUD and over the upcoming months the developer and city planning staff will work together to tweak the concept before asking for final council approval.
My quote for today comes from the well known philosopher, Groucho Marx who quipped; "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies."
Thanks for your interest in Mount Dora!
Marc Crail District 4 City Council Representative
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