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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The new fire services assessment fee and qualifying period for the Nov. 2 election were the two newest items considered at the June 24 City Commission meeting.

Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham proposed an increase in the new fire services assessment fee from the current amount of $155 per home or $0.42/day to $223 or $0.61/day for the coming fiscal year. The fire assessment is billed annually along with property taxes and is used exclusively to fund fire protection services in the city.

The increase will help fund a 24/7 professional Advanced Life Support (ALS) department, which many smaller cities do not have as part of their local fire department. “Adequately funding this department was a high priority at our strategic planning sessions,” said City Manager Ashley Stathatos.

The increase in fees will also fund replacement of three aging trucks. Engine 29, a commercial cab unit, was purchased in 2012 and is approaching the end of its life. “Commercial cabs, while cheaper to purchase, generally only have a 10-year life expectancy,” said Gillingham.

Squad 29, a 2006 commercial cab truck, was given to the High Springs Fire Department (HSFD) as part of a five-year automatic aid agreement with Columbia County. HSFD took delivery in 2012, replacing a 2003 truck that was due to be retired. The current truck is at its end of life and is far too small for the advanced technical rescue equipment it carries.

The third vehicle is a 1997 brush truck that HSFD has owned since it was new. “The truck has had several mechanical issues during the last few years and is now totally inoperable and has been out of service for a year,” Gillingham said.

Commissioners unanimously approved Resolution 2021-C, which will increase the fire assessment fee as requested.

In other City business, Resolution 2021-D, which sets the election date, lists seats that are available, and specifies the qualifying period also received unanimous approval. Seats #4, currently occupied by Commissioner Byran Williams, and #5, currently occupied by Commissioner Scott Jamison, are the two seats for which candidates may run. The election date was set for Nov. 2 and the qualifying period was set by this resolution to run July 19 – 22. City Clerk Jenny Parham will be available to handle qualifying paperwork from the beginning of the work day to closing on each day of the qualifying period.

In other business, resident Linda Tanner spoke about water runoff at 243rd Street, which have impacted her home and those of other neighbors. Stathatos said she has asked the city’s engineers, Mittauer & Associates, to review several locations with similar problems and provide feedback about what can be done to remedy these situations.

Other items that were approved on second and final readings included Ordinance 2021-04, which addresses mobile food vendors and food trucks, Ordinance 2021-05, which addresses changes to the Land Development Code and Ordinance 2021-07, which changes Memorial Park from a Residential zoning designation to Public/Semi-Public designation, bringing that property into the proper designation for its current use.

Following several complaints by citizens about the waste removal service provided by WCA, City Attorney Scott Walker reported that his firm is in the process of compiling a letter for the city manager’s review. If approved, she will forward the letter to WCA to make them aware of the City’s concerns regarding their service.

Commissioner Byran Williams announced that Farm Share would be in High Springs on July 17 to distribute food. Volunteers are needed to help with dissemination of the food items into cars.

The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for July 8 at 6:30 p.m.

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