C.M. WALKER/Alachua County Today
L-R: Displaying a proclamation recognizing July and August 2016 as Water/Ways months in High Springs is Water/Ways Exhibig Program Director Kristina Young, High Springs Mayor Byran Williams, museum sponsor Jim Tatum and High Springs Historical Society Secretary Diane Karris.
HIGH SPRINGS – The focus of the July 14 city commission meeting was primarily concerned with money, and lots of it.
“The city has received a $3.3 million grant from the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD),” said Ed Booth, City Manager. He vowed to have a full presentation specifying exactly how the grant funds will be allocated at the Aug. 11 commission meeting.
“Some of the projects are driven by the SRWMD and some by us,” said Booth.
One of the first projects to get funded will be the hook up of Camp Kulaqua to the city sewer system. “The water management district has been trying to get this hook up done for some time,” said Booth.
“We also need to put in a wetland area for drainage, which will also be part of the grant.”
The city expects two more subdivisions to begin construction in the near future, which will provide 300 more homes on the city sewer system. “Those homeowners can amortize payment of their impact fees over a three-year period,” said Booth. “Once everyone has been hooked up to the sewer, it should begin to pay for itself in three years.”
Booth expects to have the city engineer at the Aug. 11 meeting to help answer questions about what projects will be tackled in what order.
Although the budget hasn’t been officially passed for the upcoming fiscal year, the City has listed several items with a good chance of approval. “The millage rate will remain at 6.1326 mills with a rollback rate of 6.0785,” said Finance Director Jennifer Stull.
A new bucket truck, two new police cars and an F-250 pick-up truck with lift to service grinder pumps are suggested new purchases.
In addition, $14,000 has been allocated for recreation to pay for installation of a fence and to drill a well for irrigation. Also budgeted for recreation is a $10,000 part-time position to inspect park equipment and oversee repairs.
Employees will see a three percent raise and department heads will see an increase in their salaries of $5,000 each.
In other city business, commissioners approved an agreement to extend High Spring’' Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) allotment. The current CRA agreement with Alachua County is set to expire in December 2016, following 30 years of operation.
The new agreement was unanimously approved by city commissioners after the Alachua County Board of County Commission (BOCC) approved and executed the agreement on July 5 of this year. In sending the agreement to the city, County Manager Lee Niblock suggested the City allow the County to manage the fund. The City Commission approved the agreement without including the suggested change.
The agreement allows the city to extend the CRA for a term of 15 years. The City may choose to further extend the CRA for an additional term of 15 years if it first obtains affirmative approval of the additional term extension from the County.
The agreement will provide the CRA with $75,000 from Alachua County, the same amount from the City of High Springs and an additional $40,000 for the next five years to repay the CRA fund for inadvertently neglecting to put in matching funds into the CRA account from 2002 to 2006. During those four years, the amount that should have been paid into the CRA fund from the City's coffers amounts to more than $199,000, according to CRA Director Amanda Rodriguez.
Tabled items to be considered at the Aug. 11 meeting include consideration of establishing a standard agreement for city-owned buildings regarding utilities, a reduction to the speed limit on West U.S. Highway 27 and a request to establish a memorial garden in front of the High Springs Fire Department.
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