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NEWBERRY ‒ Looking ahead to the state’s upcoming 2021 legislative session, which starts next March, the Newberry City Commission is considering funding priorities and compiling a list of requests. The priority list “provides delegation members with comprehensive information that allows them to focus their efforts on specific legislative priorities and initiatives related to the City,” said City Manager Mike New.

“Initiatives typically included in the agenda relate to general legislative policy, general government, community and economic development, job training and education and capital projects and appropriations requests,” New said.

New provided a list of 21 items compiled by staff members last year for consideration.

The top five items on the list include funding requests for infrastructure improvements such as a $1 million state appropriation for a wastewater force main extension east on State Road 26 to facilitate economic development. Newberry’s investment as of last year is $1.4 million for a water system extension and wastewater lift station.

Also, on the list is to support funding for the Florida Jobs Growth Grant Fund program and support an application from Newberry requesting $4.5 million in funding for Phase 1 infrastructure in the Newberry Ag-tech Innovation Park.

The City is also requesting an allocation of $30 million in funding for the construction phase of Florida Department of Transportation’s State Road 26 Modification Project – Newberry, which has completed the Project Development and Environmental Study (PD&E) phase, and is now in the design and property acquisition phase.

Also included is to support funding for grant/loan programs in Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for expansion of wastewater treatment facilities. Newberry anticipates a $4 million grant application for construction of advanced treatment effluent facility that will reduce nitrogen loading by more than 90 percent.

The City is also supporting funding for grant programs such as the springs and river management grant programs that focus on reducing nutrient loading on the aquifer from wastewater treatment facilities. Newberry anticipates a $2 million grant application for construction of advanced treatment effluent disposal system that will reduce nitrogen loading from City treatment facilities by more than 90 percent.

Commissioners will review these previously identified items and add or modify this list for the next legislative session.

The Commission also heard presentations at the Oct. 12 City Commission meeting, which included Alachua County Commission District 3 candidate Anna Prizzia, advocates for health care legislation, and another on behalf of the One Mill tax for schools.

Alachua County Health Care Advisory Board member Brendan Shortley and League of Women Voters of Florida’s Diane Dimperio addressed health care for Floridians and advocated the passage of legislation to expand Medicaid during the 2021 sessions of the Florida Senate and House of Representatives. The duo also earlier had delivered the same presentation to the High Springs City Commission.

A third presentation was made on behalf of the One Mill tax for schools, which also was delivered to the High Springs Commission earlier.

Newberry City Commissioners proclaimed Florida City Government Week of Oct. 19 – 25, Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23 – 31 and American Pharmacist Month during the entire month of October.

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