September 16, 2008

Nassau 411

Back to the airport battle

The four-year-long legal battle between McGill Aviation and Fernandina Beach may end soon as an arbitrator is giving them one last shot to come to an agreement before he settles the dispute for them, City Attorney Tammi Bach said Tuesday.

McGill Aviation, which runs the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport, alleged in 2004 that the city took portions of the land it leases from the city without adjusting its rent. McGill claimed its lease with the city requires arbitration to settle a dispute rather than going to court.

However, the city sued McGill Aviation for $85,000 in unpaid rent and fees.

"The city's definitely interested in settling, on what terms we don't know yet," Bach said. "We're waiting on McGill to see if they want to come to the table and settle."

Jim Middleton, the attorney for McGill Aviation, could not be reached for comment before deadline.

Still waiting on FEMA

Dozens of Nassau County residents were still waiting Tuesday to hear if the Federal Emergency Management Agency would help individuals impacted by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Fay.

The storm damaged 104 structures in Nassau and caused $2.8 million in damage to private property, Nassau County Emergency Management said.

FEMA and the State Emergency Response Team were still reviewing Nassau's application for assistance Monday, said Pete Garcia with the FEMA statenews desk in Orlando.

Water rates may go up

Fernandina Beach water and sewer users could soon see the first increase in their water rates in five years and the first in their sewer rates in 14. City commissioners are scheduled to vote on a resolution calling for new water and wastewater fees during their meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The proposal would, for the first time, add a sewer consumption fee. Residents currently pay a flat sewer rate of $24 per month, said city Utility Director John Mandrick. The resolution calls for residents to be charged $1.54 per each cubic foot of water, up to 10 CCFs.

Water customers would continue to pay a base water rate of $9.33 a month, but the previously three-tiered usage fees would be split into five. The average household, using 14 CCFs, would fall into the third tier, paying $1.30 per each CCF. Those users are paying $1.19 per CCF now.

Mandrick said rising electric costs are spurring the increase request. After a string of electricity rate increases, it now costs Fernandina about $20,000 a month to operate the water/wastewater system, up from the previous $9,000 to $10,000 a month, Mandrick said.

No election competition

No new town officials will be elected in Hilliard this year, but residents will still go to the polls Nov. 4 to vote on three referendums.

Incumbent Town Council members Jack Bailey and Donald Humphrey, whose three-year terms end this year, were the only qualifiers by Aug. 28, town officials said.

Council members' term limits could change if residents approve a referendum extending them to four years and moving town elections from once a year to once every two years, concurrent with Nassau County's election schedule.

The second referendum would allow the Town Council to appoint someone to office if a candidate's death, withdrawal or removal from the ballot leaves only one candidate standing for election. The third referendum would change procedures for adopting emergency ordinances, requiring three of five Town Council members to vote for the ordinance in order for it to be adopted.- My Nassau Sun staff

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