Highlights from the Dec. 5 Alachua County Commission meetings
December 8, 2023
Press release from Alachua County
ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – “Commission Meeting Highlights” is a new feature produced by the Alachua County Communications Office. These highlights will give residents a quick review of County Commission meetings and provide video and agenda links.
Big trucks on small roads
During the first special meeting on Tuesday, the County Commission directed staff to work with the Office of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) and Florida Highway Patrol to limit large trucks and semi-tractor trailers from traveling along county-owned roads less than 11 feet wide.
In May, the commission directed staff to bring back information to help establish a regulated truck routes system for Alachua County. Data shows that 43 roadways are less than 11 feet wide.
Staff will work with CVE and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and bring back options for fines and enforcement to address safety concerns.
During the second special meeting, the commission voted to update its procurement process for locally-owned small businesses to give them a better chance at being awarded government funds.
The county’s Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program, which launched in 2006, fosters growth among small, women-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned businesses inside Alachua County and its surrounding counties (Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Marion, Putnam, and Union counties).
Qualifying businesses inside the SBE zone can employ up to 25 full-time employees and can now have a maximum net worth of up to $5 million.
The County will also look to capture data that tracks how SBEs are utilized in County contracts. That includes instances when contracts are not directly awarded to SBEs but they are used as subcontractors.
Eligible businesses can earn an additional 5% discount on their bid price preference for contracts worth up to $50,000. Contractors who use small businesses for 15% of their work can earn a 3% discount.
“Having these guidelines allows people access to government contracts,” said Commission Chairwoman Mary Alford. “Giving people the opportunity to get these jobs helps their businesses survive.”
The Commission also voted to create an “emerging small business” category and asked staff to bring back recommendations for capacity-building initiatives that could include mentoring and other best practices for potential SBE vendors.
Alachua County is home to 6,377 businesses. Of those, 4,366 have 20 or fewer full-time employees. Last year, the County awarded $56 million in competitive procurement contracts, and roughly $2 million went to SBE vendors.
The Commission also heard an update on an Alachua County Agricultural Land Protection Strategy, which is currently under development through a partnership between County staff, Alachua Conservation Trust, and community members.
The strategy will aid in protecting working agricultural lands and local food production systems while enhancing the mission of the Alachua County Forever program.
Once developed, the strategy will utilize Wild Spaces and Public Places surtax funding to protect agricultural lands through conservation easements with willing landowners as a part of the County’s goal to protect 30% of the county’s land and water by 2030, protect essential ecosystem services, and create a buffer against the worst impacts of climate change.
The Commission approved having staff work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and interested community members to develop a new wildlife management area that would allow hunting on a portion of Lochloosa Slough Preserve south of Hawthorne.
The County currently has ten properties that allow some form of recreational hunting.