On Thursday July 12 the monthly LaBelle City Commission meeting was preceded by a special Budget Workshop Meeting. The workshop started off with an update about the USDA Civic Center Project; the goal is to have it completed by the end of the year. Be advised that the Civic Center might not be available during the project.
The Belle Arbor Jobs Growth Grant is in the second round of funding and a call with Governor Rick Scott is scheduled. The Vista Promise Zone is still being worked on, the commission has until the end of July to make a decision whether or not to go through with it.
Next item was the budget update. They have seen growth in the valuation of property. Health insurance for employees that work for the city has been increased by 4 percent. Dental plan is staying the same as last year. Property Insurance is 10 percent, that percentage might go down but for planning purposes they kept it at 10 percent.
The Sherriff’s Office is getting $255,000 this year, same as last year. One topic of discussion was that they don’t get a good sense of where the money is precisely going. They put forward a motion to request a description of services by the Sherriff’s Office.
The Fire Department would like to have a third full time employee on hand. If they were to go to three full time firefighters they would be looking at a $57,000 dollar increase in the fire budget. To compromise the commission added an addition stipend within the existing dollar number of the total budget.
There have been questions about the agreement with the rec board the extra $25 collected for recreational purposes. If that increase would go to the Forrey Park that would mean that city residents would pay more than county residents. They want to adjust the existing agreement so that the $25 would be under the city commission’s discretion.
The LaBelle street lighting there will be a converted to LED-lighting.
City Hall Update; they are still working on getting a price for fixing the portico.
The City Commission meeting opened with a local ordinance of an amendment to the agricultural zoning district. This was specifically drafted based upon the interest of a large landowner of agricultural property to undertake some excavation activities. The current code limits excavation in the agricultural zoning district for no more than 50 cubic yards or five acres of land. Through a special exception approval process the landowner would like to excavate more than 50 cubic yards. Point of discussion was the distance between excavation and roads or housing and the allowed specific agricultural destinations.
Next up on the agenda was the Resolution of Support for the National Park System. A motion was put forward to do nothing with this resolution.
On October 27 around 4 p.m. Main Street will be closed in the afternoon from Dollar General to Barron Park for the Halloween Parade after all the football activities.
Lisa Sands of United Way thanked the City Commission for helping them raise funds for the local community.
Scott Perry of the annual LaBelle Fossil Camp was approved for an exception to stay in the dock with two boats until August 3.
On the new business agenda a motion was put forward to appoint Stacy Stevens to the Variance Board.
Next item were the Reports
• Fire Chief Josh Rimes had 68 calls this month and the station is almost finished.
• Hendry County Sherriff’s Office had 9,600 calls for service and 126 arrests.
• Another topic was the Hurricane Debris RFP. The County would like to get the debris removed quicker next time.
• Another point was that the website of the City of LaBelle has to be ADA compliant; it has to be viewable for somebody that is visually or hearing impaired. The first public hearing of the budget workshop will be September 13, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The final public hearing will be September 27 at 5:05 p.m. at City Hall.