Finding fodder on board agenda
People ask all the time, “How are you able to write every day?”
Wish I knew.
Some days, the words just flow. Others, well, it’s a little more challenging, especially if I’m in between topics — as I was Monday at 5 p.m. when I realized if I didn’t get moving I’d be working 'til midnight again.
I have two sources guaranteed to provide blog fodder. One is commission email and the other is the county commission agenda.
Today it’s both.
The county commission has budget hearings in the morning today and the regular meeting in the afternoon. Let’s break it down:
— For the first time in quite a while, probably seven or eight years, the county is looking at an actual tax increase to pay for new and continued services. Commissioners have discussed a tax boost to help pay for residential road resurfacing, a Baker Act facility, EMS and the sheriff’s office. (Click here to view the budget.)
The sheriff, as we know, is pushing for a big budget increase to hire 32 more people and give pay increases. The county administrator is suggesting that it be phased in over a period of years.
Budgets are normally pretty dry, but with Sheriff Mike Prendergast and board Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. in the mix, expect plenty of grandstanding.
The budget hearings are in the morning, starting at 8:30, and they should wrap up by noon. (Prendergast, at the Republican club where he falsely branded me a liar, told folks to show up at 1 p.m. I’m not sure why. That’s when the regular meeting starts, but the budget stuff should be concluded by then.)
— Library Guy and his pals have noticeably been absent from recent commission meetings (we could tell because it was peaceful), but don’t be surprised if they’re up and at ‘em today.
The county commission is set to vote on library policies — because we certainly need the government to tell us how to behave in a library.
You may recall Library Guy, urged on by Chairman Kitchen, spoke nonsense about an issue that doesn't exist, leading to months of wasted time that culminated in the county commission reappointing the volunteer library board members.
Now we’re getting this set of policies. I reviewed them. They’re standard fare for any library.
So, of course, Library Guy has suggestions to make them better.
For example, the county lists 14 rules for meeting space. Stuff like: users can’t charge a fee; reserved 45 days in advance; activities must be open to the public.
And this one: “All programs and activities offered in library meeting spaces are open to all persons regardless of race, creed, sex, ethnic origin, or disability.”
Library Guy would like to add a 15th rule, according to an email he sent to Commissioner Scott Carnahan:
“Under no circumstances shall library meeting spaces or any part of the library be used to host ‘Drag Queen Story Hours’ or other inappropriate sexualized performances targeting children.”
He also wants no references to the “leftist” American Library Association, which, we all know, is a huge promoter of Drag Queen Story Hours.
Give me a break. Can someone please hand this guy a life?
— It’s probably nothing, but the prospective buyer of the Betz Farm property is asking for another 30 days for due diligence.
I saw this in the commission email a few weeks ago and asked County Administrator Randy Oliver if he saw an issue. Oliver placed it on the board agenda, and I guess we’ll see.
Commissioners voted in May to sell the 350-acre property on Turkey Oak Drive for $6.5 million to Hamid Ashteri, who actually is not a developer but is an engineer. Ashteri is working with a housing developer on this site and property he owns on Cardinal Street near the Suncoast Parkway.
Remember that there was another similar offer from Sarasota developer Carlos Beruff, who has had his issues with following rules.
Proceeds of the sale go toward building the new animal shelter, so there’s a bit of a rush on the county’s side. But no money has exchanged hands yet, so who knows?
— And, of course, the Meadowcrest affordable apartments case is set for 5:01 p.m.
I don’t make a habit of predicting board outcomes, but is there anyone who thinks this has a chance? Dozens of emails and I haven’t seen a single one in favor. A 7-0 planning commission vote against it.
Slam dunk? Guess we’ll find out.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.