Recap of Work Session August 27, 2019
We began the work session discussing Betterment Grants. The City will commit $25,000 in next year's budget to Betterment Grants available to not for profit organizations. These organizations have to apply for grant money and show the money will be used to benefit the City of Mount Dora. Additionally, utility customers will have the option, in the future, to "round-up" on their utility bill. These funds will be controlled by the Mount Dora Community Trust. It will be up to the Community Trust to determine which organizations will receive funds.
Next we discussed the Fee Schedule. This schedule covers all City fees for all departments. These fees are intended to be "pass through" costs. Councilmembers had some discussion about a few of the fees that seem to be higher than actual cost. As these are not meant to be charged at a profit, our City Staff will go back and attempt to adjust some of these fees to actual cost. Our Leisure Services Director also noted some changes in the fee structure for booking events at the Community Building. Event promoters are able to hold up to three dates per quarter before actually booking the date(s). At the time of booking 20% of the fee will be collected and the remaining 80% will be collected 30 days before the date of the event. Good news about fees...while our base rates for Electric will be increasing slightly our usage fee for electric will decrease next year. That decrease is due to lower fuel costs.
City Council Salary increases was mostly a split discussion. A couple of Councilmembers are against a raise in salary, a couple did not comment at all and the remaining Councilmembers would be for an increase. Mr. Rolfson proposed that since it has been 10+ years since the last increase that we consider a $1,000-$2,000 immediate increase and institute a 2%-3% increase each year as a "norm". Mr. Crail was in agreement with the percentage increase. Ms. Tillett and myself are not in favor of increases. Both of us citing the fact that the minimal pay for a City Councilmember is not why we ran for City Council.
City Council Meetings will be live-streamed again very soon. We should see a draft ordinance at our next meeting, September 5th, and vote to adopt the Ordinance on September 19th. Once adopted we can begin the necessary upgrades to our software, video and audio equipment to livestream meetings while being ADA compliant. Livesteaming will happen on the City's website. Full instructions will be available just as soon as all equipment is up and running.
We had a good beginning conversation with property owners regarding vacant downtown buildings. The general consensus was there are things the City staff could improve to make it easier to attract business to downtown Mount Dora. A parking structure is a must to renovate and attract businesses to downtown Mount Dora. One example given was to renovate and reopen the Princess Theatre. In order to accomplish that we need to have more parking available. Many of you had proposed a vacancy tax. That question was asked and the general consensus from property owners was that a tax for vacant stores is not a driver to fill that space. One property owner mentioned shifting focus from the Innovation District to downtown. All 3 property owners agreed that Downtown is the heart, the core, of Mount Dora. Focus should be placed on making it the best it can be before spending time, effort and funds in the Innovation District. It was an appreciated meeting by all parties.
We have a new Police Chief. Deputy Chief Bell has been promoted to Police Chief and he was sworn in this evening before City Council, his family, City Staff and his Command Staff. Congratulations to Chief Bell, well deserved.
If you have any questions please email or call me anytime.