Friday, May 27, 2005

Glades County Taking Lykes To Court

MOORE HAVEN, FL. (May 23, 2005) -- Before making the motion to file suit
against Lykes Brothers, District 2 Commissioner Alvin Ward, at the Glades
County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night, reported on a recent
meeting the Board had requested with Lykes Bros concerning removing the
deed restriction clause placed by Lykes when Glades County obtained the
40-acre site for the county landfill in Ortona.

That restriction allows the deposit of only in-county waste in the county's
class II landfill.Ý With less than 25-30Ý tons of solid waste per day
generated within Glades County, the operation is such the small volume
cannot generate enough revenue to keep a black bottom-line, much less
provide the approximately $2 million needed to close the first cell within
the next two years and open the second of four cells.

Ward announced that Lykes had agreed to negotiate the removal of the
restriction, which would then allow solid waste stream of the same class
from other counties, providing Glades County would: 1) agree to take firm
action in opposition to the permitting of Omniís regional landfill in
Charlotte County near the Glades County line northwest of Muse 2) team up
with Charlotte County for a joint venture of waste disposal services, and
3) adamantly oppose the regional landfill sought by Republic with the City
of Moore Haven annexation project or anywhere in Glades County.

Ward expressed his view that this was unreasonable and he moved to go
forward with litigation and sue Lykes Bros to get court authority to remove
the restriction. Ward stated funds could be borrowed to finance the
Lykes Bros. is the largest property owner with the largest tax bill in
Glades County. Should the conglomerate company decide to forego the
discount incentive, it could pay its ad valorem and tangible property taxes
in March instead of November, as many Glades tax legally payers do.Ý If
this occurs, Glades County very probably would have to secure a $1 million
loan to pay day-to-day General Fund budgeted operating expenses between
mid-November and March 30. The Glades County Sheriff's budget comprises
about 60% of the general fund expenditures. Ward's viewpoint was the end
justifies the means, in that opening the landfill for out-of-county waste
could generate income for Glades County.

Commissioner Jones sided with Ward, stating Glades Countyís financial
situation keeps going downhill and in his 13 years on the Board, they are
now facing the worst year yet, viewing a regional landfill as the monetary
savior of the revenue-strapped 10-mil tax rate county.

Commissioner Beck remained in strong opposition to a regional landfill in
Glades County, especially one near Moore Haven. He cautioned that this
process will not solve Glades County's immediate woes because the process
could take five or more years in permitting, and with the likelihood of
lawsuits starting when the City strikes its deal, it would no doubt take
even longer before any significant funding started flowing to the City, or
City/County/School Board or whatever landfill revenue-sharing team was

Beck's apparent concern was neither Republic nor the City of Moore Haven
have officially disclosed the proposed regional landfill site, and varying
versions of legal opinions are surfacing concerning using the railroad
right of way as basis for the "contiguous to the city" requirement to annex
out-of-town property for a regional landfill site. He suggested a 5-year
moratorium while other solutions are sought. He mentioned that the County's
Land Development Regulations are still being revised, and he quoted quite a
bit of terminology on the legality and defensibility of using this avenue
to prevent the Republic/City regional landfill.

Echols lamented the terms of the original process when the landfill Request
For Proposals was published (in the summer of 2003) using the Consultants
Competitive Negotiation Act, which requires ranking vendors and negotiating
exclusively with them in order of ranking until impasse. He proposed the
Board choose the optionÝ Glades Countyís Attorney Richard Pringle outlined
in his last memo to the Board and declare impasse (at this meeting) with
both Republic and BFI and go back to "square one" , put out another RFP and
see what's out there now. Echols supported the consideration of the County
working with the City of Moore Haven on its annexation issue with plans for
a regional landfill with Republic

Chairman Jones, reluctant to foil the process, had the Board's Clerk get
Pringle on the phone; Pringle stated they could do that, but the ìsafestî
way would be to allow Republic to come back to the Board and start
negotiations. His position was based on the presumption that communication
between the County and Republic had not been clear enough when he notified
them of the impasse reached in negotiations with Waste Management, and
Republic failed to appear at the last commission meeting to further discuss
negotiation options.Ý Should an impasse be reached with Republic, then the
Board would go ahead and negotiate with third ranked BFI.

In other action, the Board approved setting in place additional millage
assessments not to exceed approximately 6 mils to fund operating costs for
county provided fire protection and emergency medical services. The exact
millage, which will be in addition to existing 10 mil ad valorem taxes,
will be determined during the upcoming budget workshops beginning in July
to fund the fiscal year 2005-2006.

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