By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
ORMOND BEACH - The Public Works Department saved more than $500,000 on a project and the city is preparing to oppose a state constitutional amendment to give first-time homeowners a bigger tax break.
The city borrowed money from the state for the wastewater project, but the public works department finished the project and stayed $509,382 under the loan amount, and reduced the loan service fee by $10,188.
"In case you ever wondered whether the city is being a good steward of the money it has, and the money it uses, I think that the public works people and all the people who worked on this project, including (public works director Ted MacCleod), should be congratulated for their diligence in seeing to it that the project came in that much under what it was budgeted for," said Commissioner Rick Boehm.
Also at the Oct. 2 commission meeting, commissioners opposed Amendment 4, which proposes increasing the homestead exemption for first-time homebuyers from $50,000 to 50 percent of the home's value up to the median price in the county. It also proposes reducing the cap for tax increases on non-homestead property from 10 percent to 5 percent per year.
Several commissioners spoke against the amendment. The consensus was the amendment allows people to move into Ormond Beach and pay less taxes than people who already live there. Existing residents basically would be supporting newcomers.
Also discussed was a moratorium on the sale of synthetic drugs. The manmade drugs are used in cases where a patient has a resistance to an antibiotic. However, Mayor Ed Kelley reported that when abused, "they are more damaging than the 'real' drugs".
Commissioner Boehm said the drugs in question are those sold in gas stations, head shops and over the Internet that are marketed as bath salts, synthetic marijuana, "K2" or "Spice," herbal incense and plant food. They are labeled as "not for human consumption." However they are abused to the extent that they are the "second most used illicit drugs, at roughly 13.4 percent, of high school seniors using drugs. Marijuana is first at 36.4 percent."
Mayor Kelley commented, "If you ban the real stuff, why don't you ban the synthetic stuff". He wants a moratorium for a year on the synthetic drugs. With the hope being that the state Legislature will do something this year to ban them entirely.
On both items the commissioners instructed City Manager Joyce Shanahan and her staff to prepare documents for approval.
During audience remarks, Jim Schultz of Ormond Beach gave further information about the dangers of fluoride, continuing the debate of the last two meetings. He particularly warned against flushing unused medications down the toilet as it is "a real risk to our ecosystem as the drugs get into the water supply."
Mayor Kelley added there was "a very successful drive this past Saturday. The Police Department received a number of prescription drugs."