Random Tuesday thoughts during a week when my mind’s in a hundred directions:
— Commissioners are getting the crud beat out of them over the property tax increase. It was either 17.8% or 8.3%, depending on which equation you’re using. In reality, those percentages are nothing but talking points.
Speaking with a commissioner on Monday, this is what I said: Each budget should contain a story within it, and I don’t know what this budget’s story is. We’re spending more money on road resurfacing and miscellaneous other projects, but that information either wasn’t relayed well to the public or…actually, there is no or. That’s it.
I chalked it up to a first year with these five commissioners and a new county administrator, but I’m not sure what message this budget is supposed to convey.
When commissioners say they have legitimate reasons to raise taxes, but those reasons are lost on an angry public, that’s a concern.
Adding more property taxes to pay for residential road repaving has citizens wondering, rightly, how the gas tax revenue is used.
I ran into a Just Wright Citrus reader last weekend at the Scarecrow Festival in Crystal River who wondered that very thing. Look at Sound Off — lots of people are asking similar questions.
These aren’t the Library Guy Gang troublemakers looking for any excuse to trip up Commissioners Schlabach or Holly Davis.
Nope. Regular folks in our community, newcomers and oldsters alike, are sincerely confused by this board’s budget and tax message.
That’s not on the administrator or public information officer. That’s on our elected leaders to tell us what’s up.
— After getting psyched that my surgery would force me to miss the Pine Ridge Golf Course master plan hearing, we learned Monday that the hearing is postponed.
The developer wants all five commissioners in attendance and Chairman Ruthie Davis Schlabach will be absent from next Tuesday’s board meeting.
Opponents generally get their feathers ruffled when the developer wants a postponement at the last minute. Here’s the thing, though: It’s his application and he’s the one paying for the process.
And I can’t blame a developer for wanting all five commissioners in on it. Tie votes are the worst.
That said, it would seem the Pine Ridge developer has an uphill battle.
Recall that a company bought the abandoned golf course for $850,000 and wants to build houses on it. The developer needs a change in the Pine Ridge master plan, similar to zoning but even more site-specific.
This County Commission in general is asking detailed questions and not making it easy for anyone with a development project.
I mentioned recently that the developer of the Tidal Wave car wash, after striking out on a normal procedural vote for his project on C.R. 491, now plans to file for a planned development but first wants to meet individually with commissioners to go over their concerns.
Technically he can do that because the development application isn’t filed yet. Still, it would fly against the spirit of a rule designed to prevent commissioners from meeting with any side in a zoning case while the case is pending.
So it was nice to see in Commissioner Rebecca Bays’ weekly email that she first agreed to meet with the Tidal Wave owner but then declined at the suggestion of County Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn.
I still don’t like the rule. Anyone should be able to meet with a commissioner for any purpose. This so-called quasi-judicial idea of treating zoning cases like the Supreme Court is nuts.
— A letter to a commissioner from a new resident of Sugarmill Woods:
“What approach or who would you talk with to address the road conditions in Sugarmill Woods as well as the absence of safe bike or multi-use paths throughout the community?
I’ve seen so many close calls between bicycles, runners, walkers and vehicles in the community.
Any thoughts on how to progress that conversation with the right people to come up with a future viable solution?”
These letters used to frustrate me. Someone new to the community raises an issue we’ve been trying to solve for 30 years. More often than not, the new resident becomes rather indignant when told his idea is not original, and that we’d all be happier with bike paths but those things are not cheap.
On the other hand, we should encourage our new residents to question the way things are, and then contribute to the conversation.
Wonder how he feels about tax increases. Guess that’s next week’s email.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.