SFSC now inside AP city limits
Marc Valero | Highlands TodayAVON PARK - The City of Avon Park now has a 233-acre college within its city limits, namely South Florida State College.
Published: September 12, 2012
Published: September 12, 2012
It has taken more than a year to work out the details of the voluntary annexation petition, which the college's board of trustees approved in April and the city council approved Monday.
City Manager Julian Deleon said Tuesday, "This annexation was a city council priority. The college is the premiere educational leader within the county. This regional organization brings a great deal of recognition to the city."
This annexation will benefit the college with "inside city limits utility rates," he said. This could save the college $40,000 to $50,000 annually.
The city charges 25 percent more for water and sewer service to customers outside the city limits.
The city will benefit by gaining a large-scale sanitation account. Deleon noted.
South Florida State College President Norm Stephens said, "We are delighted to be a part of the City of Avon Park, the City of Charm.
"We believe this annexation will benefit both the college and the city and we appreciate the willingness on the part of Avon Park City Manager Julian Deleon, the mayor and city council to work through some rather complicated issues. On behalf of our board of trustees, I thank everyone involved in this process."
In July 2011, the city council approved a voluntary annexation petition with the college.
The college's board of trustees was set to consider the petition on July 27 2011, but it was tabled because the college faced an electric utility franchise fee that would have exceeded its savings from lower city water and sewer rates.
Then the city agreed to refund all franchise fees paid by the college, resulting in no additional cost to the college.
The college's board of trustees approved a revised voluntary annexation petition in April.
Former mayor Tom Macklin commented on the annexation at Monday's council meeting.
How much money in franchise fees will be going back to the college for their voluntary annexation? he asked.
Deleon said he didn't know the amount. The city is currently not earning those franchise fees, he added.
Macklin said, "I think the citizens have a right to know how much is going to be remitted to the college."
City Attorney Gerald Buhr said, as Deleon pointed out, the city is not collecting the fees now.
On Tuesday, SFSC President Norm Stephens, Jr. explained that the city waited to vote on the petition until after the college's name change, which became effective July 1.
Also, there was a review by the city to make sure the annexation would not create an "enclave" or an area encircled by the City of Avon Park, he said. That took some time for a legal review.
Under the terms of the voluntary annexation agreement between SFSC and the City of Avon Park, the college will continue to maintain its own internal roadway system, with the ability to name roads, limit the use of roads and install speed limit signs, if it so chooses, the college notes.
Currently, the college has a perpetual easement agreement with Highlands County for roadway maintenance and improvements to College Drive, which will remain in place. The agreement provides that SFSC will continue to retain responsibility for engaging the services of a state fire inspector to perform its own fire inspections.
The City of Avon Park will provide fire, EMS facilities, equipment and services to the SFSC Highlands Campus.
The Highlands County Sheriff's Office will continue to provide primary law enforcement services to the college's Highlands campus.
As a local unit of government, the college is exempt from local property taxes and will remain exempt from city property taxes.
Deleon said, "Our next objective is to annex the city's own Public Works Facility. This will be significant when considering that public works was constructed outside the city's corporate limits well over 25 years ago."
firstname.lastname@example.org (863) 386-5826