Flagler County Board of County Commissioners Meeting

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June 19th, 2023, the Flagler County Board of County Commissioners held their regular meeting.  During the announcements, Chair Hansen updated the public that Varn park is still closed as well as informed the public of the next couple of meetings.

Copyright Flagler County Buzz

The meeting started off with the Airport Quarterly update presentation updating the board on the Flagler Executive Airport. The Air traffic control tower is almost done being replaced along with a myriad of other projects to update the airport, as seen in the graphic below.

Copyright Flagler County Buzz

Fuel sales for the second quarter were over 24,000 gallons AVgas (1,151 fuelings), and 41,461 gallons of Jet A (200 fuelings). Flagler Executive Airport is third in the region for District five airports, being beat out by only Orlando Airport and Kissimmee. The airport understands there are residents in certain sections of Palm Coast who have concerns about the airport noise, and they have conducted noise contour studies, and have come up with a Voluntary Fly Friendly Program that will help with controlling noise from the airport. They have also come up with flight patterns that they have given to flight schools to help with keeping the noise down in sensitive areas. Leanne Pennington asked questions about the noise complaints, and essentially the airport director said he can continue to keep calling the schools, but they are not required to follow his requests. Essentially he said the airport cannot police where the planes fly, that is the job of the FAA.

Warbirds over Flagler was a great event, and they plan to do it again next year. United Flagler is coming this July 4th at 5pm, and there will be fireworks over the airport. This year there will be no parking on the front of airport, but there will be parking at FPC and in town center. The Sheriff will be there to direct pedestrians to cross State Road 100. The back of the airport will be for those who need more accessibility.

The Commission then heard on the State of the Library, the annual report from the Library Board of Trustees. The library services in 2007 included the main branch in Palm Coast with a satellite in Bunnell and no library in hammock or on the barrier island.  They saw historic reductions in funding including from the state. In 2007 they applied to be a passport application acceptance facility. They have raised more than 1.1 million dollars to date with that service. The library collaborated with the county staff, and with their passport revenue they were able to obtain land for a new branch for the southern library. Flagler County Public Library was ranked #1 as the most needy library for seven years in a row, which allows them to apply for a construction grant of $500,000. The building process is still in the design phase.  The population has grown from 89,000 to 124,000 which the Library Board states is a reason for the library expansion. Due to staff shortages the hours of the library have dropped.  It has been reported that for 15 years the library has not met state benchmarks. The Library Board of Trustees stated that according to state standards our library is lacking severely in staffing. They are asking the BOCC to restore the size of the planned southern library, and provide more resources to serve a growing population. According to the presentation, there was an influx in traffic through the doors and circulation of the books. Commissioner David Sullivan, stated that they did get the $500,000 grant and the budget for the library is up to 1.8 million dollars, which is progress.

Public comment was opened up for the public to address the commission.

A resident came up to state her research into the airport noise. She brought up the fact that our airport caters to flight training, and that the majority of our air traffic is from flight schools. She states our airport is the only one that has not had the the contour studies done since the talks of expansion.

Another resident stated that the noise is too much in their neighborhood. She feels the issues are due to the flight schools. She said there was never complaints until the airport started allowing the flight schools to use the airport. She wants the commissioners to do something to fix the problem.

A third commenter came up to ask that agenda item 7i be pulled from the consent agenda. He had questions he wanted to ask about that particular agenda item.

Public comment was closed, and the board was asked if they had any comments and the board said no, minus the agenda item 7i.  The consent agenda was passed 5-0, minus agenda item 7i.

Agenda item 7i was on the overhaul of the county website.  They are looking at switching vendors and updating the website, making sure it is ADA complaint, among other issues. The cost of this overhaul is going to be $59,225 which includes the overhaul cost, and the design, while the residual annual maintenance cost of the website will be $30,000 annually.  Commissioner Andy Dance had a few comments regarding the website and wants the public updated with any updates and efficiency.

Public comment on the website started off with a resident questioning what the security would be. Two larger cities were just hit by ransom ware, and one city didn’t pay, the other did. The answer given to the resident, was that there is enhanced cyber security and the website does not tie into the county system. The County is also updating their software they use for more enhanced security. Upon closing the public comment the board voted and passed the agenda item 5-0.

The board heard a brief presentation about an easement request, where the easement between two parcels would be moved by request of the parcel owners. All utility companies were asked, and none opposed. The taxes are paid up to date, and they have all necessary paperwork and legal issues covered. The Board asked if there were any comments by the public, and when none was made, the board vote to accept the easement request 5-0.

The board heard a second reading of chapters 8 and 9 of the Flagler County Code of Ordinances. This second reading follows previous workshops, and has adopted some changes as talked about in the previous workshops. When House Bill no. 735 is passed, the ordinances will be amended to include specialty contractors. The commissioners were asked if they had questions, Commissioner Sullivan, clarified the issue of a special magistrate, and upon clarifying, the public comment was opened, when no one approached the comment was closed. The Board approved the code 5-0.

The County Administrator asked for approval to spend just over $5 million on a new helicopter. Commissioner Dance asked what would happen if it was waitlisted until the July agenda, and the Administrator stated the helicopter may be sold by then and it would be a year before they could get another one and the price would be higher.  Chief Tucker commented that he would work with the Sheriff on a grant for the camera system for the helicopter which the helicopter would be designed for to allow for easy installation.  County administrator stated that she needs approval in the form of a letter of intent and the down payment in order to obtain the helicopter. It is the same aircraft the county owns now just a newer model. Dance asked the life expectancy of the new model and Chief Tucker stated that our current helicopter is still flying after 24 years. That is largely due to the pilot who also handles maintenance of the machine. Chair Greg Hansen stated that it would be wise to start program to help with financing for future purchases like this down the road. The Board opened it to public comment, to which no one approached the podium, allowing the board to vote and pass the motion to buy the helicopter 5-0.

The floor was opened up for general comment again. A resident who spoke up earlier came back to the podium to discuss the airport noise again. She states there is a residential conflict with the airport.  She pointed out that her area where her home is, in the south west side of the airport, is not listed as a noise sensitive area, only the north side is.

Another resident came up to talk about the library. She wanted the board to pay attention to neighboring counties. She stated that she felt the board was over prioritizing, compared to other counties. She feels there are other areas that are a higher priority than the library for residents of Flagler County.

Another Palm Coast resident came back to the podium to inquire about the resident who was holding out on the beachfront property that was stopping the Army Core of Engineers.

Commissioner Pennington thanked Paul Renner for his work. Commissioner Dance commented that it is great that we can get the assistance for projects in our county. David Sullivan commented that Flagler Beach came to the County and the City of Palm Coast, asking for collaboration on helping with their situation. He stated the County is already providing a lot of financial support to the city of Flagler Beach, but maybe they can still bring something to the table at that meeting. Sullivan wants to offer the Tourism Board to the City of Flagler Beach to help them with things like brochures and other tourism services.

Upon commencing with the Board comments, the meeting was adjourned.

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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