News Cast 8/4

News Cast for August 4th:

Schools working on budget 

Okeechobee Schools plan a small tax hike this year of 1.6 percent. 

The amount of local property taxes collected will go up $1.2 million or 5.8 percent mostly due to rising property values. 

The tax rate was reduced by 6.4 percent. 

The proposed $199 million dollar budget includes one-time spending from federal cares dollars and the $82 million dollars for Okeechobee High School. 

Superintendent Ken Kenworthy also will receive an $1,100 raise this year.  He will make approximately $117,000. 

“I’m pleased with any salary increase.  I’m glad I have the faith of the board.  I know there may be some superintendents in the state that are making more money.  They are not as blessed as I am to be working in Okeechobee, the board I have, the community I served, and the students I have here.  I’m truly blessed and that is priceless.” 

The district received over $500,000 from the state to increase the starting pay of teachers. 

The district has 26 teaching and 24 non instruction positions still vacant. 

Larkee Lakes residents complained about a land locked canal causing odor and other problems. 

Chris Ruiz told county commissioners that the situation is kind of crazy. 

“It is dangerous to have each individual homeowner do whatever they want to improve their property.” 

He worried about neighborhood kids venturing into the canal unsupervised. 

County Commissioner Brad Goodbread said the neighborhood should consider filling it in. 

“Although you think your neighbors comment to fill it fill of dirt was ludicrous, it’s the right answer.  It is going to be a stagnant water way for ever.  It goes nowhere.  It can’t replenish or clean itself with water.  It will just be a large mud hole forever.” 

The county was willing to support an effort to create a special taxing district to help maintain the canal. 

The Clewiston city commission honored the Florida state Babe Ruth softball champions for 12 and under. 

Vice Mayor Greg Thompson read a proclamation honoring the team. 

The girls competed at the World Series in Martin County and were able to win three games, including one against a team from Puerto Rico 

Commercial fishermen Lavon Cheryl urged the city to support his fight against invasive fish and species in Lake Okeechobee. 

He said there are more and more invasive species in the lake. 

“We have a new problem in the lake.  We have numerous undesirable species of fish in the Lake like Tilapia and Mayan Cichlid. “ 

Cheryl said commercial fishermen have helped Lake Okeechobee. 

“We have dedicated most of our lives, benefitting our families and Lake Okeechobee, and that has made it all worth while.” 

Council has also gotten concerns from residents due to large increases in electrical bills 

The city of Okeechobee received a grant to install a kayak launch at Centennial Park. 

They also received a grant of $36,675 to purchase new laptop computers for the city. 

They also are researching ways to allow members of the Technical Review Committee to talk outside of their meetings for items on that months agenda.