Clewiston passes 2020 budget, tax rate, ordinances

CLEWISTON — The Clewiston City Commission approved a fiscal year 2019-20 budget of almost $29 million and a tax rate 3.5% above the rollback rate, along with six ordinances on final reading, at its Sept. 23 meeting.

Finance Director Shari Howell explained that the proposed millage rate, the same as last year at 6.5134 mills is just over the rate that would have raised the same amount of money as last year’s, giving the city a few tens of thousands of dollars more to work with this year. One mill equals $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of taxable property value.

The certified gross taxable value of all property in the city rose to nearly a quarter-billion dollars ($242,873,778) over the past year. The capital and operating budgets for fiscal 2020 total $28,999,351, with $1,586,306 of that coming from local property taxes.

The commissioners also, on unanimous votes, approved these ordinances:
• The City of Clewiston Honesty, Integrity and Government in the Sunshine Guide, prepared by City Attorney Gary Brandenburg, as the city’s code of ethics.
• A change amending the Clewiston Code of Ordinances regarding home occupations to specify that “business activity conducted over the internet … is not subject to city regulation, provided … there are no employees on site, no deliveries or pickups are made by couriers or delivery services, and no other activity attributable to the business is visible from the exterior.”
• A change in the code to allow up to three outdoor roadside sales of merchandise, lasting no more than three days each, by merchants holding a valid city business license within an allowable zoning district, for selling automobiles, recreational vehicles or boats.
• An exemption of hemp-based, low-THC CBD oil from the definition of “cannabis” as specified in the city’s ban on medical marijuana treatment dispensary facilities.
• A stricter law to strengthen enforcement against fireworks use within the city limits, widening the definition of illegal fireworks, manufacture and recombination of fireworks materials.
• The rezoning of property at 404 E. Alverdez Ave. to industrial.

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