State of the County Verdict: Osceola is Back!
Commission Chairman Frank Attkisson addressed over 300 people at the State of Osceola Address recently. He enthusiastically explained that “Osceola County is back with a vengeance!”
Building permits are on the rise and the county achieved a 10-year high in overnight visitors in 2012, he told an audience of about 300 people.
“Osceola is open for business,” Attkisson said. “Today should not be a day of asking is the recession over, but a day of us realizing that we are making Osceola number one for you, your family and future residents.”
The inaugural State of Osceola was held at the Osceola County Conference Center at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate.
The event served as a community status report, and focused on district by district reports by county commissioners, as well as actions the county has taken in the last year and the resulting impact on residents and businesses, officials said.
Attkisson was the featured speaker at this event – the first for the county. This year’s theme was “Celebrating 125 Years of Service. Looking to the Future.”
The full report outlined several important factors and plans in Osceola County. In 2011, the County Commission adopted a Strategic Plan. This plan guided County staff in their addressed concerns of 2012. The plan also set goals that the Commission hopes to realize in 2016. Some of these goals include growing and diversifying the community as well as cost-effective and high-performance government. Commissioners also look to upgrade Osceola infrastructure and transportation systems to prepare for and facilitate growth. The blueprint also includes plans to create “safe and livable” neighborhoods for the future. Since the plans implementation, the County has seen over $42 million in “direct, indirect savings and grants realized.”
During the 2012 fiscal year (FY12), spanning from October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012, Osceola County faced many issues. During budget planning, declining property values challenged Commissioners in their attempt for a balanced budget. However, in 2012, property values declined at a much lower rate – 7.59% – than in 2011. The report stated that several taxes including Utility Service Taxes, State Shared Revenues, Local Government Half-Cent Sales, Tourist Development Taxes, and Infrastructure Sales Surtaxes were “beginning to stabilize and/or increase over FY 2011.” Commissioners explained that the main source of funding for the General, Library, and Emergency Medical Services Funds were appropriated through Ad Valorem taxes – taxes based on the value of property as opposed to the extent of the property.
Ad Valorem Roadway Tax
The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) also recognized that current infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly and is not equipped to serve the needs of a growing county. Due to this, the BOCC forged a plan to fund transportation and cover maintenance costs through 2040. Initially, planners implemented a Dedicated Ad Valorem Tax. The BOCC then began to work with the City of St. Cloud to create a countywide “source of funding for capital and operational needs.” Osceola County plans to host an Ad Hoc Panel this year to hear suggestions on finding a source for the funding. They are currently looking at a Transportation Sales Tax and or a form of mobility fee.
Library Systems and Services (LSSI)
In February of 2013, the county also welcomed the West Branch Library serving the Celebration area. The new library was made possible by a contractual agreement between Osceola County and LSSI. LSSI is a private company that manages library organizations. Earlier in the year, BOCC began considering cutting library hours and staffing. However, with this contract the Commission saw a savings of $1 million per year, library hours remained the same, and employees remained in their positions. Osceola County is the first county in Florida to have this partnership and it is projected to save over $4.8 million in the next five years.
Impact Fees & Poinciana Parkway
The BOCC rescinded transportation impact fees as revenues from the fees declined. The Board says it is a temporary measure as the fees also have undesirable bearings on economic growth during a recovering economy.
The council received data on the dire situation facing commuters in the Poinciana area. Due to these issues, the BOCC partnered with OCX, Polk County, and AV Homes to develop a 10-mile toll road that will serve the area. The Commission stated that they hope to begin construction by the end of 2013 and finish by 2015. As the Commission and partnerships are funding the project, they purchased 165 acres of Judge Family property for $150,000. They also reserve rights to acquire the remaining 240 acres of the property within one year. It is possible that this additional property may be used for a water quality facility to protect Lake Tohopekaliga.
Greater Osceola Partnership for Economic Prosperity (GOPEP)
The BOCC, City of St. Cloud, and City of Kissimmee partnered together to create an “independent economic development authority.” GOPEP looks to resolve the high unemployment rate in Osceola County as this has been a priority issue in each city as well as the county. Each government entity contributes to its funding and members include an elected official from the county and one from each city. Additionally, the BOCC appoints two more individuals and they hope to add a final appointment from “higher education.”
Efficient Land Development Code
As the county continues to grow, it is necessary that our cities offer the best possible “investment perception.” In order to make the county desirable to new economic ventures, the BOCC has modified the Land Development Code to remove over 90% of the Conditional Use requirements. The report also explains that the Commission provided “administrative approvals for the majority of uses” and also created “performance standards” to yield high-quality development. In this process, the BOCC initiated at 15-month moratorium of the zoning application fee for non-residential properties in order to encourage economic growth.
New Additions and Innovation
BOCC enthusiastically reported several new additions to the county in 2012 as well. The Osceola County Executive Dashboard is now available online to all citizens at http://DASHBOARD.osceola.org and shows visitors status and plans involving County projects. The dashboard will allow citizens to find timetables, dates, and budget updates on each development.
FY12 also saw the completion of a county parking garage and welcome center. The Welcome Center, located near Shingle Creek, opened its doors last year and offered visitors 8,000 square feet of nature exhibits and ecotourism experiences.
During the FY12, BOCC also worked to develop plans regarding the U.S. 192 Corridor redevelopment. Data confirmed “blighted conditions” in the corridor and surrounding region. These findings led to the establishment of the Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Agency. Currently, resolutions are in place to revitalize and redevelop the West 192 area to capitalize on commercial opportunities.
“It is important for our citizens, businesses and regional partners to know where we’re going,” Attkisson said. “Osceola is building on a rich heritage, but we are definitely looking at ways to be the region’s leader in a number of areas.”
SCRMC Awards Physician, Associate, Nurse, Director, & Volunteer of the Quarter
St. Cloud Regional Medical Center (SCRMC) is proud to announce its quarterly award winners. These winners were nominated by their peers for their outstanding commitment to delivering quality, compassionate service.
Physician of the Quarter
The Physician of the Quarter is Mehmood Nawab, MD, Infectious Disease. Dr. Nawab is recognized for his exemplary methods of teaching nurses. When rounding on his patients, Dr. Nawab has been known to bring the patient’s nurse into the room with him to help nurses to understand the disease process and to engage patients in education. He truly strives to provide the best care possible to his patients. St. Cloud Regional’s nurses note that he is always respectful and approachable. His clinical skills and his dedication to effective communication and nurse education make SCRMC proud to have Dr. Nawab as a member of the Medical Staff.
Associate of the Quarter
Alison Bass is the Associate of the Quarter. Over the years, Alison has served in several capacities throughout St. Cloud Regional. From nursing to billing and coding, she is seen as a great liaison for both the clinical and finance departments. Her peers and supervisors see her as an individual who is intelligent, caring, knowledgeable, and committed to the ever changing environment of healthcare. Not only does Alison garner much respect at SCRMC, but is continually seen as one of the best in her position throughout the hospital’s system.
Nurse of the Quarter
The Nurse of the Quarter is Cindy Sandell, RN. Cindy has proven to be a great asset in the ICU unit and to her patients. She has gone above and beyond, she works extra when needed, and is always willing to help others. She has been a major player in continuing education for her unit. Her impressive clinical skills complement her skills as a valued advocate for her patients.
Director of the Quarter
The Director of Imaging Services, Kimberly Morris, is Director of the Quarter. Kimberly is recognized as a director who is willing to help in many areas outside of her department. Most recently, she helped organize a large multi-hospital emergency management drill with great success. She has been with St. Cloud Regional since 2007. Through her work writing federal grants, she has helped SCRMC receive thousands of dollars in emergency management supplies. As a hobby, Kimberly’s pastimes are making wine glasses and candles. She recently used her creativity to help redecorate a room in the Post-Surgical Wing. This room will serve as a model for the redesign of all the rooms in this 16-bed, single-room wing.
Volunteer of the Quarter
The hospital also proudly announced a Volunteer of the Quarter: Robert Woodrow. Robert meets patients’ and families’ spiritual needs regardless of their religious background. He is committed to providing spiritual care for the health and wholeness of anyone who enters the hospital. His charm and dedication make him a favorite among patients and staff.
Congratulations to all winners and nominees! We want to thank you for your commitment to SCRMC and community and for helping St. Cloud Regional become a better place for associates and physicians to work.
About St. Cloud Regional Medical Center
St. Cloud Regional Medical Center is situated in the heart of St. Cloud, Florida. The modern 84-bed, acute care facility offers a comprehensive medical support system for both inpatient and outpatient needs. For more information about the hospital and its services, visit www.stcloudregional.com.