We have a hard, fast rule here at Just Wright Citrus regarding Monday’s blog.
I cannot go into the weekend without Monday’s blog already written in my head, so I’m not sitting at the laptop Sunday evening with a blank screen.
This one’s a no-brainer.
I attended the meeting Commissioner Holly Davis had for Inverness Villages 4 residents on Thursday and it could not have gone worse.
This meeting was to inform residents of the potential assessment, called an MSBU, that they could face to pave their streets and provide drainage.
The number was absurd: $109,000 a lot. Davis said “no way” the county commission would vote for the MSBU, though she’s not in a position to guarantee that. Davis is only one of five votes, and commissioners seem eager to move this one along one way or another.
Let’s get into it.
You know the Inverness Villages 4 story enough, right? Folks with lousy “public” dirt roads and sandbags to fight off flooding in heavy rain, with a development history that could make a scary Halloween movie for government geeks.
Jump to current status. Residents wanted to know how much it’ll cost them for new roads and drainage.
The County Commission had hesitation about getting involved. The county considers these streets in the same way it considers “private” roads meaning not a dime of tax money should be spent there.
Commissioners a year ago agreed to a $35,000 engineering study to determine what’s needed and the potential costs. Before doing that, they said residents would be stuck with the MSBU no matter what the study revealed.
“You asked for this,” board Chairman Ruthie Davis Schlabach said at the time. “If we are going through this process, it has to be on your shoulders, not the taxpayers of the rest of the county.”
Now that the study has returned with an outrageous number, are commissioners sticking to their plans for the MSBU? If not, who’s paying for the $35,000 study?
Then there’s the information sharing or lack thereof.
I know I griped last week about getting stiffed on a public records request for the Inverness Villages 4 MSBU engineering study. Despite it being nothing more than an engineering study, somehow the county was unable to provide it to me for eight days until — shock! — after Thursday’s citizen meeting.
I figured the county was trying to control the message, and I was partially right. I would have bet a Cattle Dog frozen hot chocolate that the county would have handouts for citizens showing up Thursday.
Nope. Incredibly, after all this time of waiting for this report and the nightmares IV 4 residents face, the county invited them to a meeting and then was woefully unprepared for their questions. I do not get it.
Instead, county officials displayed the presentation on a screen roughly the size of my living room TV. “As you can see…” an official would say, pointing to a dark splotch on the screen while folks 30 feet away strained to look.
I mean…am I missing something here? Why wouldn’t the county make it easier for folks to understand this mess instead of making it more difficult?
And when someone complained that the county should have brought copies of the presentation, I almost laughed out loud when an official suggested citizens can get it through a public records request.
The item is on Tuesday’s County Commission agenda. There is no link on the agenda to the presentation or study. The only way for IV 4 residents to see details of the report on their own neighborhood is to show up Tuesday.
(Here’s a flowchart on the IV 4 process.)
Look. This may all be futile. Inverness Villages 4 could be one of those things, a once-in-lifetime development disaster never again to be repeated. And residents may just be stuck (!) with their circumstances.
But, boy, it’s a mess. Any clarity would be nice.
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.