The Heartland Educational Consortium

The School Board of Highlands County has tabled the Town of Lake Placid’s request to annex the Heartland Educational Consortium.

SEBRING — The School Board of Highlands County has tabled the Town of Lake Placid’s request to annex the Heartland Educational Consortium as the board seeks to know if there are any benefits to being inside the town.

The consortium is north of Lake Placid at 1096 U.S. 27 North.

At Tuesday’s School Board meeting, School Member Jill Compton Twist asked what are the benefits to being annexed into Lake Placid.

School Board Chair Bill Brantley commented that it could change the cost for utility services.

School Board Attorney John McClure said the town contacted the School Board asking if it will annex.

“They did not give me a list of benefits that would be appropriate; I do not know if there are benefits,” he said. “I would suggest to you, as Mr. Brantley has indicated, the question is what does it cost for city services? Would there be a possibility of a negative effect on us if they attempted, for instance, to impose sanitation fees and other costs.”

With respect to taxation, it is neutral because there are no additional taxes, McClure said. The annexation does facilitate the town’s future annexations.

“Without our consent it pretty much stops right there,” he added.

Brantley said if the property was ever sold, the buyer would be looking at paying additional taxes because they would be paying county taxes on top of town taxes. That is a negative. “I don’t see any positives.”

McClure said the consortium has a good location for the clientele it serves and he hasn’t heard any talks about the potential selling of the property.

Compton Twist asked if it could be tabled to get more information.

It was noted that a Town of Lake Placid representative was informed they did not have to be present at the meeting.

School Board Vice Chair Donna Howerton asked if it could be tabled until the next meeting so a town representative could be present.

The board voted unanimously to table the annexation request until the next regular meeting, which is Sept. 10.

The Heartland Educational Consortium is a combined effort of six area school districts to offer training to educators and innovative learning programs. It includes the school districts of Highlands, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry and Okeechobee.

The School Board of Highlands County serves as the fiscal agent for the consortium.

The superintendents of each member district serve as its board of directors.

In 1997, the consortium was located in a downtown Lake Placid building and it moved to its present location in 1999.

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