County sets millage, ups burial plots

At their October 27 meeting Hendry County Commissioners passed the final millage rate at 8.4909. They also finalized the roll back rate at 8.3329 and the 2015-16 budget at $69,872,896. All were approved unanimously.

Cemetery ordinance
The board also finalized changes in cemetery protocol

Hendry County residents may purchase a plot for $700 or mausoleum space for $3,300. For resident veterans (or those with immediate family here) there is no charge. Rates for non-county residents are $2,500 for a plot and $7,000 for mausoleum space.

Rates for out of area deceased with immediate family in Hendry (or those property owners in Hendry) receive local rates. Only the rates for out-of-area have been increased.

The rates and protocol were approved 5-0.

The board also clarified ashes placement.

Demolition
There was much discussion about the privatization of demolition projects.

Planning and Community Development Director Margaret Emblidge noted that being able to demolish a building is a six month process. She said at this time the county has $75,000 for demolition this year and she wants to take care of some of the worst. She plans to choose those to be done first by checking their structure and visibility to the community. Board Chairman Karson Turner felt these projects would be a good opportunity for local contractors. Ms. Emblidge said she would send the information to the county’s regular vendor list.

County Administrator Charles Chapman said he is interested in partnering with public safety for training first responders.

Superintendent of Public Works Michael Boyle and Director of Finances for the City of LaBelle also addressed the board, saying the city has similar issues. They would like to coordinate with the county on demolition projects.

Chairman Turner was receptive to the idea of lowering the impact and burden to both cities as they try to clean up the entire county.

Road paving
County Administrator Chapman told the board that the county needs a road bond to catch up with neglected road work. Commissioner Don Davis noted that the county has had a nine cent tax on gas for some time, and still roads go unpaved. In fact, he said, some of our older roads are losing their base.

“Residents pay nine cents per gallon,” he said, “I want to see something for it.”

Chairman Turner and Commissioner Michael Swindle both were amenable to a bond and Chairman Turner noted that the county needs a plan to pave/repair roads by quadrants, cautioning that the process needs to be orderly. “We need to be intelligent about it,” Commissioner Swindle added.

Code Enforcement
Ms. Emblidge reported that she has stepped up code enforcement and it is improving, but still misses the mark. She said the load is “tremendous” and the department only has three employees who are working their way through a backlog.

In other business:
Discussion on new election equipment was continued till the November 10 meeting in Clewiston.

LaBelle resident Richard Yorachek was named to the Local Planning Agency (LPA).

Dr. Michele Gail of Coconut Creek asked the board to pass a resolution against fracking. She noted that the practice is unsafe, can cause cancer and birth defects as well as an increase in infant mortality. She said it also uses a lot of water – an element that may become more precious in the state in the coming years. She added that the process can contaminate water sources.

The board took her request under advisement.

The next regular county commission meeting will be held at Clewiston City Hall November 10 at 5 p.m. It will be the only commission meeting in November.

Patty Brant, can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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