News Cast 4/3

News Cast for April 3rd:

Should we expect a tax increase?

The Okeechobee Board of County Commissioners got a briefing on the county financial status.

The state expects a 13.3 percent increase in taxable values in Okeechobee this year.

Last year they rose by 9.7 percent.

Inflation is up 6.4 percent. Personal income was also up 6.4 percent.

Interim Finance Director Michelle Berger told the commission that home building permits are also increasing in the county.

“In 2020 we were down to 124.  WE moved up to 178 in 2021 homes.  That is a 44% increase in housing permits, and a 61% increase over 2020.”

She said other positive economic news includes plenty of jobs available.  Tourism also continued to increase.  The visitor rate went up over 39 percent in 2022 and is up 2.4 percent in 2023.

County Commission Chairman David Hazellief wants to keep the tax rate the same this year.

Okeechobee City police said one person went to Raulerson hospital after an SUV crashed into a store.

The wreck happened Saturday afternoon at the O’Reilly Auto Parts store on South Parrott Avenue.

The Black SUV went through one wall and caused extensive damage to the vehicle and some damage to the building.

Police said they continue to investigate.

Jessie Mizell of Myacca City, overcame a 19 pound deficit to win the Toyota Series fishing tournament on Lake Okeechobee.

He caught 22 pounds 7 ounces on Saturday to defeat Bobby Bakewell of Orlando by 1 pound and 9 ounces.

He takes home $50,000 in prize money.

Mizell said the weather conditions changed Sunday giving him a chance.

“The wind direction changed a little bit and today receded quite a bit.  That back flush on the north end meant the water was cleaning up.  I knew a wave of fish would spawn and there was a lot of blue gill in the area.  I found an area that was a little muddy but had a sandy bottom and right away caught a 4 ½ pounder.  Had a few seven pounders that I lost.  I pitched a gig with a gambler chunk on the back.”

Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid was third, Jared McMillan of Clewiston finished eighth and Steven Lake of Lorida finished in 13th place.

Jared Morgan of Okeechobee caught over 19 pounds in two days and Buck Durrance 15 pounds 10 ounces.

A number of bills this year in Tallahassee designed to help crime victims.

Curtis’ law would require employers to give parents of minors killed during a crime some paid time off.

It would also allow crime victim’s family more access to the death investigation findings.

Wanda Gomez saw her son murdered and said she still doesn’t’ have information about the case.

“To this day I don’t have the basic information on my son’s case.  I don’t know who killed him or why.  I’d like to change the state probation laws.  After being in the hospital, I was taken away from my child due to a violation of probation due to an issue with my driver’s license that had been resolved.”

Another bill would allow victims of domestic violence who have to leave home and their job, clearer access to unemployment benefits.

The city of Moore Haven received a $934,000 check from the state in March to begin work on their downtown redevelopment and street improvement drainage project.

Mayor Clay Browning wants the city council to hold a workshop on street improvements in the near future.

The city is also watching a bill that would place the city electric and the Glades Electric Cooperative and other rural cooperatives under the jurisdiction of the Florida Public Service Commission.