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Commission meets to discuss annexation, more

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By REBECCA GALLAGHER, Beacon Correspondent

The Cedar Key City Commission met on Aug. 15. Present were Mayor Heath Davis, Vice Mayor Sue Colson, and commissioners Nickie Rucker, Dale Register and Royce Nelson.

As most of the public attendees were there to discuss the pros and cons of annexing adjoining county property into Cedar Key, Mayor Heath Davis reminded all to state their names for the record. Mayor Davis then continued the meeting as per the agenda.

The Commission discussed a request by the owners of 1842 Daily Grind, Terry Williams and Martin Kemp, to place bistro tables in front of the coffee shop. The Commission reminded the owners to allow 42 inches of clearance on the sidewalk and approved the request.

The Commissioners then announced that Waste Pro would reinstate the three-tier service for recycling, with three tiers of pricing.

Susan Rosenthal presented the commission with an update on the 48th Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival to be held Oct. 21 and 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The festival features more than 200 arts and crafts exhibits, including 32 new vendors. There will be live music at several locations and lots of local seafood.

“We’re still working on the parade. We are close to the mark, but still have lots of work to do,” Rosenthal said.

City Attorney Norm Fugate read Ordinance 516 regarding annexation. The proposed annexation basically includes all land on the island side of Bridge No. 4.

Davis said, “One of the benefits of the annexation is to protect the value of your property. It’s not that Heath wants your tax dollars. You get a lot of bang for your buck.”

Davis reported how in the past, fire insurance had been a problem for the residents in the unincorporated area of Levy County now being considered for annexation into Cedar Key. The residents living in these areas lost fire insurance due to lack of services. The city of Cedar Key used city funds to put in a system of fire hydrants, a pump station and now those residents not in the city benefit by being able to purchase fire insurance and at a reasonable rate.

“I see flood insurance as the next big problem,” Davis said. “The city is already working with the new Community Rating System to help lower premiums, enhance safety, reduce property damage and damages to infrastructure. Those in the city are going to be the ones to benefit.”

He described how the CRS rating system worked. He showed how the point system devised by FEMA works and said, “Right now we are down here at a 10, but we are already doing things that should put us at an eight and I believe that we can get to a six. That’s our goal.”

Looking at the chart that rates cities from one to 10, with one being the best and 10 the worst, a Class six would result in a 20 percent discount on flood insurance. He pointed out some of the simple things Cedar Key is already doing that gets the city points on the new CRS rating system such as flood protection information, elevation certificates, storm water management and outreach programs. The more points a city acquires, the more discount the residents receive on their flood insurance. Davis said this would be a benefit received by being annexed into the city.

• Commissioner Rucker said, “This is right. We should want to do this to be part of the community. We are one, now we can really all be one,” she said about the annexation.

One person wanted to know how they would receive an advantage, other than lowered flood insurance. To vote, the resident must live in the area and be registered. The individual felt underrepresented because not all residents were registered to vote.

The commission then took a vote and unanimously agreed to proceed with residents voting on the Ordinance to Annex. The Commission agreed to set the date for voting as October 17.

In accordance with Section 11 of the Ordinance, the effective date for the city to adopt the amendment would be Oct. 18 if the voters pass the ordinance.

• The commissioners addressed Ordinance 517 regarding regulation of businesses engaged in passenger transport or for hire vehicles. The consensus was that liability insurance would be reduced from $1 million to $300,000 and the application fee would be set at $25.

The next subject considered was a change in the City Employee Handbook that would allow the city to terminate an employee at any time, without notice with or without cause. The measure passed by a vote of 3 to 2.

• The vote processing equipment use agreement with Levy County Supervisor of Elections Office was passed. It was made clear this if for this election only.

• The issue of marina kiosk leases was addressed. Due to work on the marina kiosks, the contracts with the vendors have run out and are being renewed on a month-to-month basis.

Commissioner Nelson said he would like to the long, redundant lease reduced to two or three pages. It was quickly touched on that two years would be an appropriate duration for a lease. The fees for the dock kiosks would be priced at $230 per month to include 510 square feet, plus $0.20 per sq. ft. The beach kiosk would be priced at $250. Current vendors would be allowed to keep their current kiosks, but should they decide to vacate, an option to put the kiosk out to bid should be considered. The staff was asked to prepare a shorter lease with these parameters in mind for the next meeting.

Colson advised attendees that Cedar Key had lost 83 trees. The trees are cut or trimmed on a priority basis considering safety first.

“Are the trees going to fall on someone? Can the garbage trucks pass?” She said the money is there to replace the trees in the winter because of the need to have someone water them. She said she was considering watering system options.