This may come as a surprise to some but there’s more on Tuesday’s county commission agenda than just the turnpike extension.
Let’s break it down:
— Well, this was bound to happen. Everyone rejoiced when the county commission nixed the mandatory garbage collection idea, but the landfill’s financial problems didn’t just disappear.
The county is proposing rate increases at the landfill, and those increases are likely to hit home whether you self haul or not.
Proposed increases include a tipping fee bump of $3 per ton of garbage. The tipping fee is what the haulers pay, so don’t be surprised if they pass that cost onto customers.
And while the daily self-haul rate won’t change, the quarterly passes are increasing by a few dollars.
One thing NOT increasing is the $27 annual assessment. Last year the county bumped it $2 from $25 and homeowners went berserk after receiving confusing ominous notices from the county that looked a lot worse than they really were. Truthfully, many people who complained didn’t realize they were paying anything at all.
The only vote Tuesday is to set the public hearing for June 27, though commissioners are likely to discuss the proposed fee schedule.
— The commission is expected to approve a letter asking the Citrus-Hernando MPO for a traffic signal on U.S. 41 at Airport Road. Getting the MPO involved is the first step toward the state approving a signal.
Their reasoning is the county is developing a business park at the Inverness Airport. While that’s certainly sensible, the weird thing is this intersection has been a trouble spot for years, particularly at county fair time. It’s another one of those slightly angled intersections that makes a left turn onto 41 really challenging.
That said, I’m not a big fan of adding another traffic signal to a county that seems to have overextended its red light privileges a long time ago. Anyone on the Citrus County roads with any frequency will say we are spending an EXTRAORDINARY amount of time sitting at red lights.
All I’m saying is we’ve been fixing traffic intersections with signals for years, maybe there are alternatives.
Or maybe I just want to whine about red lights.
— For as long as I can remember, the county has had a rule about waterfront setbacks that’s based on rain runoff from homes, pool enclosures and lawns into waterways. Fifty feet is the rule, but you can go closer with a variance so long as you’re diverting runoff from directly entering the canal or bay.
Over time, though, the criteria began to move away from the environment and toward neighborhood aesthetics — making sure someone’s pool enclosure, for example, doesn’t block a neighbor’s view of the water.
A lot of these variance requests got hung up by the planning commission, which has a reputation of nitpicking them to the point that property owners throw up their hands and give in.
Commissioner Jeff Kinnard is one of those property owners. The planning commission denied his variance request in Dixie Shores; even before that, Kinnard has harped on what he believes is a lack of science connecting building setbacks to waterway damage.
The ordinance commissioners will consider Tuesday follows Kinnard’s logic. It lowers the setback to 35 feet, and allows a house or pool closer if it fits in with the surrounding neighbors.
There’s an environmental part to it as well, so it’s not like someone can flush their fertilizer right into the canal.
— Finally, we all expect a full house in the morning for the 9 a.m. turnpike workshop. What’s not known all that much is the board has an 8:30 a.m. workshop on county debt.
Now, the county debt is certainly an important topic of discussion. But giving it a half hour as folks with their pink signs pour into the commission chambers is an unfortunate sense of bad timing.
If you’re not doing anything Tuesday, come by the commission chambers (1 p.m. start in the afternoon). and watch your county government in action. And let ‘em know what you think about that traffic signal.
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.