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Friday, 04 September 2015 10:31

County Approves Estero Inter-locals, Discusses Historic Preservation

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Budgets, historic preservation, and inter-local agreements with Estero were among the major topics touched upon by the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, September 1, when they convened at the Old Lee County Courthouse for a regular meeting in the morning and a work session in the afternoon.

It began with a brief morning meeting where the Commissioners went through a great number of agenda items in a short span of time. Two of these items were the finalization of an Inter-local agreements for municipal services and impact fees with the Village of Estero. While there wasn’t much in the way of discussion on the final votes for these items, it afforded a chance for Mayor Nick Batos of Estero to stand before the Board and acknowledge the hard work of both his Village and the County in getting these various agreements to this point.

“It’s an agreement we’ve been working on for a number of months, and I want to thank you for the help and the guidance you’ve given us at the beginning of our new journey as a city,” Batos said during public comment. He also gave thanks to the County staff for their part in the months-long process of crafting the various inter-locals between the County and its newest incorporated municipality.

The Inter-local agreement for municipal services will go into effect on October 1, 2015 and remain if effect a full year, ending on September 30, 2016. Services it covers in that time-span include surface water management, canal maintenance, transportation maintenance, and animal services.

The Commissioners approved these agreements, as well as the rest of the consent agenda, in a unanimous vote.

At the afternoon work session, the BCC got one last chance to ask questions pertaining to the final draft of their $1.9 dollar budget before it goes to its first public hearing on September 9th. However, discussion that afternoon focused on other issues such as Historic Preservation grants and the Visitors and Convention Bureau.

The talk regarding the Historic Preservation grants stemmed from questions several Commissioners had on government’s role in such projects at their August 18th meeting. Commission Chairman Brian Hamman and fellow board member Cecil Pendergrass stated their objections to government grant money going to restoration projects on private property, with Hamman questioning that this may not be “the proper role of government.” Neither stated an objection to the grants being used on projects with public access.

“If it’s in the budget, it is policy,” Hamman said, noting that now would be a good time to decide if the County was going to budget $100 thousand towards these efforts.

Commissioner Larry Kiker countered that $100 thousand is not sufficient for many projects, commenting specifically on the Boca Grande Lighthouse, a project where restoration efforts run in the millions.

Commissioner John Manning was also against getting rid of the grants altogether, stating that he did not want to do away with the history of Lee County.

Not wanting to interrupt current projects, such as the restoration work on the Alva Library, Hamman gave direction to the Staff to not budget future money towards these projects until the County has a clearer view of where the money will be going.

“Let’s see if we even want to do this next year,” Hamman said.

The Commissioners finished the day by voicing approval for a budgeted $1.4 million increase in marketing money for the VCB, in addition to the continuation of the Bureau’s budget from the previous year.

“This is a break-even number,” Manning said. “It gets the VCB back to where it was years ago before the recession.”

Read 1350 times Last modified on Sunday, 31 January 2016 12:50

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