Marion County Commission rejects the idea of septic tank inspections. The reason for the proposed septic tank inspections was Marion county is home to first magnitude springs.
The county is developing its own plan to protect the springs at Silver Springs and Rainbow Springs. Should a thorough anaysis indicate that septic tank runoff wastewater is having a negative impact on the environment of the springs, the county may agree to septic tank inspections at a later date.
If implemented, septic tank inspections will be pay for by the homeowner. Although the cost of the septic tank inspections was not discussed at the meeting, $100 per septic tank inspection is anticipated. The septic tank inspection, if implemented, would occur once every for years.
County Commission rejects state mandate for septic tank inspections
The County Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to reject a state mandate to set up an inspection program for the county’s 90,000 plus septic tanks.
State lawmakers wanted to have a grasp on how leaky septic systems could be affecting first-magnitude springs, defined as those pumping 65 million gallons of fresh water a day, in the 19 counties that have them. Marion is home to three such springs, out of a total of 33 statewide.
The Legislature created a program calling for mandatory septic tank inspections in those communities, with the assessment conducted at the property owner’s expense.
Counties were supposed to vote to enact those programs by Jan. 1, 2013. Yet 10 counties have balked since the law was passed in April. Marion made it 11 on Tuesday.
County Administrator Lee Niblock explained that the county was developing management plans for the watersheds around Silver and Rainbow springs.
Staff, Niblock said, didn’t believe it was necessary to establish the inspection program until that plan and the state’s effort to set maximum pollution levels for the springs were complete.
Assistant County Administrator Mounir Bouyounes, the county’s chief engineer, added that process could identify septic tanks as a source of the contaminants affecting both springs and steps to curtailing that would be taken once that is confirmed.
“The science is still not certain as to the amount of loading that septic tanks are putting on ground water and some of those kinds of things, and so I think it’s a cost to the taxpayers that they don’t need to bear at this point,” Commissioner Stan McClain said.
The state is expected to announce those pollution limits in the fall.
In other action on Tuesday, the County Commission:
Voted to increase the cost of an ambulance ride.
Previously, the county charged between $300 and $575 for ambulance service, depending on the level of care the patient requires. The new rates run from $400 to $658 and took effect Tuesday.
The board’s unanimous vote also upped the per-mile charge, from $8.50 to $10.16.
It was the first increase in emergency-service rates since October 2008, when the county took over the ambulance fleet from the now-defunct Emergency Medical Services Alliance, a public-private partnership.
County officials say the portion of the cost covered by insurance depends on the patient’s plan.
The rate hikes are expected to generate an additional $880,000 a year.
Killed contracts related to two high-profile initiatives.
In June 2010 the county went with California-based Aramark as a supplier of uniforms to most county departments needing them. The move was intended to save money by consolidating all the uniforms under one vendor.
But commissioners terminated the deal Tuesday after employees reported getting back the wrong or damaged uniforms that had been sent for cleaning — if they got them back at all.
Secondly, the board cut loose Washington-based VS Consulting, which had been hired in December 2010 to help secure federal funding to entice alternative energy companies to the community.
Rick Michael, the county’s economic development director, recommended the contract be ended in order to not duplicate efforts by the new Ocala-Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership, the group that emerged from the merger of the Economic Development Corp. and the Chamber of Commerce.
The county had paid VS Consulting $307,723 since December 2010 as one initiative under Niblock’s 25-point Doing More for JOBS economic development plan.
Honored Chief Towles Bigelow of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for his lengthy career in local law enforcement.
The board adopted a proclamation declaring Tuesday “Towles Bigelow Day,” in honor of Bigelow celebrating 51 years as a local crime fighter this month.
Bigelow has spent 40 years with the Sheriff’s Office and worked as the chief investigator at the State Attorney’s Office between 1973 and 1984. He is retiring by the end of the year.
Removed itself from the hiring of top staffers.
Since at least 1992, county ordinances required the board to ratify the county administrator’s choices for department heads.
But the board excised that provision Tuesday, saying they preferred to hold the administrator — one of two employees who works directly for the commission — accountable for the staff’s performance.
In related news:
Marion County Fire Rescue has received a donation of $20,000 in rescue equipment from groups that use the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.
The donation, which included a match from the state, purchased all-terrain vehicles and trailers that will make it easier to transport people who get sick or injured along the more than 100 miles of trails within the Greenway.
Doug Shearer, head of the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation, said contributions for the equipment came from groups both within and outside Marion County, illustrating the facility’s popularity as a regional recreation site.
Marion County has added an estimated 1,244 people between April 2011 and this past April, bringing Marion’s overall population to 332,989.
Sixty percent of those new residents moved to unincorporated Marion.
The figures, calculated by the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida, are used primarily to determine the county’s portion of state-shared revenues.
Contact Bill Thompson at 867-4117 or at email@example.com