A number of county and city issues were presented to state Representative Alan Williams and Senator Bill Montford at last week’s Legislative Delegate meeting.
The annual meeting is held a few weeks ahead of the start of the Florida Legislative session to allow local governments to bring their priorities to Montford and Williams who represent districts that include Gadsden County.
Williams stated at the beginning of the meeting that there had been a budget surplus for the state and that things were looking up for Gadsden County.
Montford said he and Williams had worked hard last year in their respective seats to get state workers raises as well as teacher raises.
County lobbyist Chris Doolin told the delegation that among the priorities for the county was a request for renovation funding of the courthouse of $474,000 for painting, window replacement, repair of the clock and bell, and other restoration.
He added that there was a request as well for $800,000 to construct a new agricultural facility that will house Extension Service and USDA offices and educational space.
In response to the request for funding of a new agricultural center, county administrator Robert Presnell stated that because of the work now being done through the extension center with programs such as 4-H and others the new facility was needed.
County commission chairman Eric Hinson spoke about the need for the legislature to continue helping fiscally restrained county’s like Gadsden.
Funds received other than ad valorem taxes, Hinson said, account for $20 million.
“Protecting these funding programs is absolutely critical to providing services to our constituents,” Hinson said.
Richard Davidson, attorney for the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, asked that the delegation fund $500,000 for the Sheriff’s Youth Center.
The center, he said, would create activities for young people in the county and help cut down on juvenile crime.
Midway city manager Dot Inman-Johnson spoke of the need in her city for infrastructure, especially a sewer system. She told the delegation that it would help with bringing in commercial businesses and create jobs.
Senator Montford stated that infrastructure was a statewide issue and that the senate was working on ways to help fund more infrastructure.
Water, he explained, was now the biggest problem, especially as South Florida starts to look north for water sources.
Gretna city manager Antonio Jefferson spoke about the upcoming legislation concerning gaming.
“This is our year,” Jefferson said.
He encouraged the delegation to support the I-10 consolidation plan compact with the Porch Indian Tribe which would allow slot machines for Gretna Entertainment.
“This is a business investment and it is time to allow Gretna the opportunity,” he said.
When asked by Montford about the support in the community, Jefferson said it was still there.
There are 22 million cars a year that pass the Gretna exchange, he said, adding that Bass Pro Shops had looked at that interchange as a possible location.
Lee Garner, Chattahoochee city manager, said that keeping the Florida State Hospital was important to the region and asked for the delegation’s support in keeping it in Chattahoochee.
Two other issues Graner had was funding to complete the Rosedale water system and he questioned the need for a new accounting system that may be imposed on small cities. The accounting system, he said, would put a financial burden on small cities.
In response to the request, Montford stated that there was more money in the 2014 budget.
“Hopefully we can fund some of these requests,” he said.
Williams said that he was going to be at the table asking for funding for Gadsden County.