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County commission discusses new County Administration Building, paving projects

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Tuesday afternoon, the Alachua County Commission held a Special Meeting to consider the budgets for Environmental Protection, Public Works, Solid Waste, Facilities, and Growth Management.

Environmental Protection only had one request, that an existing 0.8 full-time equivalent (FTE) be converted to a full-time position, an increase of $9,971 from the Stormwater Fund.

Under Public Works, the Sheriff requested $168,500 for a new dive team equipment storage building and $37,400 for converting a storage room to an air-conditioned space that can be used for executive team meetings when the Emergency Operations Center is activated. 

Public Works also requested the conversion of a Civil Engineer position to a Senior CADD Designer for $17,958 from the Gas Tax Fund. This would allow the County to do more in-house roadway design work instead of outsourcing it to consultants. 

Overall, the certified budget submitted by the Sheriff for the law enforcement function is down $61,787 from last year. 

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Under Capital Improvement Projects, there were 2 new Solid Waste projects: a Hazardous Waste Collection Center for $405,000 and a new High Springs Collection Center for $600,000. Those will be funded from the Solid Waste Fund. For Fire Rescue, $2.9 million is requested to relocate Engine 80. For a solar installation at the Public Defender Building, $129,000 is requested. 

The commission discussed plans for a new County Administration Building, which is currently in an exploratory phase. It is currently envisioned as a public/private partnership that would have commercial and retail on the first floor, commercial offices on the second floor, residential potential on the top, and “sandwiching” government space in between. That would involve borrowing around $34.5 million. The commissioners decided to wait and see if they get more information from the feasibility study in time to make a decision for next year’s budget.

The final Capital Improvement Project was the Court Services Support Building for $7 million. 

Four projects were proposed for Transportation:

  1. Starting the pavement design for SW 170th St between SR 45 and Newberry Road for $138,063.
  2. Reconstruction of NW/NE 53rd Ave from US 441 to SR 24 for $1.7 million.
  3. Conventional paving for Ft. Clarke Blvd from Newberry Road to NW 23rd Ave for $690,000.
  4. Mill and resurface NW 98th St from Newberry Rd to NW 39th Ave for $1.2 million. 
  • These free spending knuckleheads! When will it stop? They want a new administration building? For retail? For residential? Looking forward to that 5 cent proposed tax to fund another of their pet projects.
    Rumor has it they want to turn the current administration building into a housing project for the homeless – great use of public tax funds don’t you think? A person can rarely talk to a “live” person and if you are fortunate enough to, they aren’t able to do a transfer from their cellphone to the proper extension. I would be willing to bet that due to the current situation the building is probably less than 70% occupied and chances are high that many departments that have been taking “advantage” of the current politicized environment will not even require full staffing within a brick and mortar setting. The “private” investment probably implies some form of “kickbacks” to our local leaders. Sounds a bit like the biomass fiasco to me.
    The only “sandwich” here is the one that Byerly, Hutchinson and Cornell will make between them.

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