News Cast for July 2nd:

County considers tax cut

Okeechobee County Commissioners begin budget workshops this month and are looking at an 11 percent increase in spending this year.

Staff recommended they keep the tax rate at 8 mills this year.

Finance director Johnathon Blanco said that would generate $31.85 million in ad valorem taxes, just over $3 million in new revenue.

They propose a 3.2 percent cost of living raise and up to two percent merit raise for county employees.

They also propose a 2.7 percent increase for garbage collection, 6.33 percent increase in fire assessments and 7.9 percent increases in EMS assessments.

Commissioner Terry Burroughs suggested they look closely at reducing the tax rate this year.

Commissioner Brad Goodbread said he would consider a lower tax rate this year.

The tax base is expected to go up by 6.4 percent at sits at just under $3.9 billion dollars.

The major capital projects include the jail kitchen and laundry, $8.5 million, and a new storage building at the Ag Center $750,000.

In the courts, Andrew Jackson the third received 2 year’s on probation for marijuana sales.

Prosecutors dropped a charge of accessory after the fact in an animal cruelty case in exchange.

Jackson allegedly video taped an incident for about six minutes where liquid fire was poured on a cat.

The state required Jackson testify against co defendant Virgil Dixon in a drug case.

Wanya Sands is the other defendant in the animal cruelty case. His case is pending and his next court date is July 10.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association does not want the military budget to pay for laboratory grown beef.

The military budget proposal includes a study to see if soldiers can be fed by lab grown beef.

Spokesperson Sigrid Johannes said the farm bill negotiations continue and the focus right now is the US Senate.

Issues in the bill for cattlemen include more dollars for research and land conservation.

She noted cattle herds are down and the price of beef remains high.

The Village of Indiantown received $10.6 million this year from the state for the water plant expansion. They also applied for another $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The owner of the Indiantown Civic Center defended charging the community to use the facility while at the same time accepting a government grant to help weatherize the building so it can be a pet friendly shelter.

Craig Fousenberger said they provide a lot for the community including giving out about 250 meals each Thanksgiving to the residents.

Glades County Commissioners lifted the burn ban. The fire chief recommended they lift the ban after the recent rains reduced the drought index.