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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ A new mayor is taking the reins in High Springs as Commissioner Byran Williams was appointed to the position by the Commission at the Nov. 18 meeting. Outgoing Mayor Gloria James was appointed to serve as vice mayor. Long-time High Springs City Commissioner Scott Jamison retired from his seat after serving more than nine years as a commissioner and former mayor. As commission newcomer Katherine Weitz was the only qualified candidate running for Jamison’s seat, an election was not required and she was sworn in to Jamison’s former seat. Williams faced no opposition and was automatically returned to the Commission.

In other City business, the Commission upped monthly salaries for city commissioners to $900 and the mayor at $1,000. Ambrose pointed out that the salaries had been set at a higher rate in 2017 and have since been reduced. He suggested that the Commission consider raising the salaries for the next fiscal year. He said the 2017 salaries were set at $1,000 for commissioners and $1,200 for the mayor. City Manager Ashley Stathatos said staff would research salaries in the surrounding cities for Commission consideration.

The Commission also approved Resolution 2021-R, which amends the Land Development Code Administrative Fee Schedule. In some cases, the fees were lowered while in other cases they were raised. The changes were recommended following a survey of land development fees for neighboring cities of Alachua, Newberry and Gainesville and Alachua County.

Stathatos said the recommended fees are more in line with surrounding communities and will encourage development in High Springs. Annexation fees were removed, which were $500 for small annexations and $2,000 plus $50 per acre for large annexations. She said several cities in the area do not charge for annexations to encourage properties to come into their cities.

Additional changes included increasing the Land Development Code Text Amendment Fee from $1,500 to $5,000 per section due to the amount of time this takes staff. The fee for a lot split was decreased from $500 to $200.

The fee for a Planned Unit Development was increased from $3,500 to $6,000. A fee of $3,000 has been added for modification of a Planned Unit Development. Previously, there was no fee.

The Site Plan Review fee is $2,500, but with the approval of this resolution, the proposed fee for Minor Site Plan Review is to be set at $500, Major Site Plan Review will be set at $2,500 and Site Plan Review with Infrastructure will be $4,000.

The current fee for a Preliminary Plat is $3,750, Final Plat is $1,500 plus recording fees, and construction plans is $3,250. The proposed fees are $1,500 plus $10 per lot for Preliminary Plat, $1,500 plus $5 per lot for Final Plat and $3,000 plus $1 per lot for Construction Plans. The fee for a Zoning Verification Letter will decrease from $50 to $25.

Another item receiving unanimous approval was Ordinance 2021-12, which amends the adopted Fiscal Year 2020/2021 budget.

High Springs has been allocated $3,094,274 in American Rescue Plan Act Funds received with approximately half of it received thus far, according to Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham.

Gillingham offered several options for commission consideration, including engineering of the water plant, funds for the Opioid Task Force, Phase III of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, City Hall elevator replacement, body cameras for the High Springs Police Department, cardiac monitors, a new roof for City Hall, bonuses for first responders and broadband.

Commissioner Linda Jones suggested a Commission workshop to consider all the options and others agreed that would be preferred with so many options to consider. A workshop was set to take place at 5 p.m., Nov. 29, just prior to the next City Commission meeting.

The Commission narrowly approved Ordinances 2021-09, 2021-10 and 2021-11 involving annexation of approximately 735.17 acres into High Springs. The intent is for this area to be developed into a solar facility by Duke Energy.

All three measured passed separately with a 3-2 vote. Commissioners Katherine Weitz and Linda Jones voted against approval.

The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. with a workshop scheduled at 5 p.m.

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