It was a contentious Avon Park city council meeting last night with allegations, name-calling and finger-pointing. The purpose of the special meeting was to work on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Among other things, the council voted to re-instate the fire assessment with a 40-percent increase. That will allow them to hire two additional firefighters and take over fire inspection duties.
The council also added a financial analyst, and a code enforcement officer back into the budget. They also voted a one-time three-percent cost of living raise for all employees. By a 3-2 margin, the council voted to make themselves eligible for the city’s insurance plan. That’s a $5900-a-year value. Councilman Jim Barnard and Mayor Garret Anderson voted “no” on that one.
They will wrap up their budget talks at the next meeting.
Another big shake up reportedly is coming to the Avon Park Youth Academy. Officials at the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice say their contract with Trucorps – the company that operates the facility – will be up at the end of October. They say they will be looking to procure “new services” at that program in the future.
The last such turnover occurred after a 2013 riot at the academy. The medium-security facility on the grounds of the Avon Park Bombing Range, was opened in 1998 as one of the largest in the state.
Another couple of brush fires in Highlands County. They occurred yesterday in the south end – near Venus. Units from Venus and Sun’N Lakes South first were joined by Florida Forest Service crews at a blaze off Rimes Road. That one apparently was started by a lightning strike.
As units wrapped up that one, They were dispatched to a call on Drew Drive. It was described as a “warehouse full” of bunnies. They found a smoldering brush fire against the side of the building. A downed power line is being blamed there.
No injuries have been reported in either incident – including the bunnies.