Landfill funds may be used for economic development

OKEECHOBEE — Use of the county’s revenue from the Landfill Trust Fund was again a topic of discussion at the April 26 meeting of the Okeechobee County Commission.

The county receives tipping fees from the landfill, based on out-of-county waste that is dumped there.

The commissioners agreed to add a line to the policy which allows the commission to use landfill trust fund money for economy development based on approval on a case-by-case basis by the commission.

Commission Chairman Terry Burroughs said people have different ideas about economic development.

“We are looking for people to come in here to embellish the opportunities for people to work and enlarge our tax base,” he said. “Signs on the side of the road are not going to encourage economic development.”

He said companies are looking for relatively inexpensive land, a trained workforce, infrastructure and affordable housing.

The site selectors look at the community through data sets and demographics, he said.

If you don’t have the infrastructure, if you don’t have the workforce, if you don’t have affordable housing, then you don’t have the opportunity to attract businesses that will provide better paying jobs, he explained.

Commissioner David Hazellief said Okeechobee County has to go after the smaller businesses.

“The big ones aren’t going to come here,” he said. “We have to have a friendly-type community and clean it up the best we can.”

Chairman Burroughs said regional economic development is targeting companies that will employ 10-15 people.

“You don’t ever turn your head away from any small company,” he said.

In other business, the commissioners approved a request from the Okeechobee Ministerial Association to allow a prayer service on county property.

“Each year for past 15-plus years, the board has allowed us to use the lawn between the Historic Courthouse and the County Judicial Center for the National Day of Prayer,” said Cary McKee.

The board agreed to let the ministerial association use the area.

“If you return it when you’re done,” quipped Commissioner Culpepper.

National Day of Prayer services are planned for May 3, at noon.

“We need it,” said Commissioner David Hazellief.

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