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ALACHUA ‒ The City of Alachua has tentatively set its upcoming fiscal year budget at $57,651,391. The City Commission held the first public hearing on the tentative increase on the millage rate and approval of the Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget. Alachua finance director Robert Bonetti said the City is proposing 5.39 mills, which is 8.10 percent more than the rolled back rate of 4.986. The tentative 2022-23 Fiscal Year budget comes in at $57,651,391, which is an increase of $8,912,748 over the previous year. The final public hearing on the millage rate, which is based on yearly property tax assessments, is slated for the Sept. 26 Commission meeting.

In other budget related business, the Commission approved extending the city contract for residential solid waste and increasing the rate from $18.60 per single-family residence or each living unit to $25.60 to compensate for inflation and increased costs. The existing contract with Waste Pro of Florida, Inc. was established in 2016 and expires Sept. 30, 2022. The current contract provides for one final extension of four years, and at that point, a solicitation of bids through a competitive process will be initiated to provide services. The Commission agreed to amend and extend the Waste Pro contract until 2026.

In other City business, the School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) will be paying the City of Alachua $320,400 to continue the School Resource Officer Program (SROP) for the four schools within Alachua's jurisdiction, Santa Fe High School, Mebane Middle School, Alachua Elementary School and Irby Elementary School. The SBAC requested that the City enter into an agreement for the 2022-23 school year. The agreement requires five School Resource Officers—one in each of the elementary and middle schools and two at Santa Fe High School. The share of funding for Alachua schools for this contact is $320,400, which represents a $20,400 increase from the previous year.

Each year the Alachua City Commission honors the drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America with a proclamation celebrating the historic event. By Presidential Proclamation, Sept. 17 through Sept. 23 is designated Constitution Week. At the Sept. 12 Commission meeting, Mayor Gib Coerper presented Kay Hall, the Past Regent for the Gainesville Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, with the City of Alachua proclamation of Constitution Week. Hall offered a brief speech discussing the founding of the nation and uniqueness of the country’s democracy and Constitution.

In other business, Mayor Coerper read a proclamation declaring October as American Pharmacists Month. Coerper said pharmacists are important members of a healthcare team who are well versed in medications, the effects they produce in a body, and how they interact or interfere with each other to safely providing medicine to the public. Pharmacists also offer many other services as part of their commitment to helping patients live healthier lives. Coerper also stressed the important role the pharmacist played during the Covid Pandemic including offering testing along with medications and vaccines. Today, there are over 300,000 licensed pharmacists providing care and serving as patient advocates for ensuring the best and safest therapy for the patients they serve

In other City business, Joy Glanzer, Chair of the Opioid Task Force, spoke about an interlocal agreement for funding the task force. An estimated 70,630 people lose their lives to overdoses each year, and many communities are struggling to find funding to combat the epidemic. The Opioid Task Force is working to get all communities in Alachua County to provide funds to combat the epidemic and educate children in schools to the problem to keep them from becoming victims. The agreement is for the Children’s Trust to distribute funds on behalf of the municipalities that have entered into the agreement. The Opioid Task Force is asking for a $10,000 contribution from each community and have had agreements signed by High Springs, Micanopy, Archer and $15,000 from the City of Newberry. The Alachua Commission agreed to contribute $10,000 to the Opioid Task Force.

The City’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) will be seeing new faces as the Commission voted on approving three appointments to the five-member council. Santa Fe High School 11th graders Abigail Blumer, Emma Cedeno-Alonso and Keyosha Queen were elected for two-year terms. The purpose of the council is to stimulate and foster the active participation of young individuals in addressing the issues impacting the youth of the community. It also ensures that the leaders of tomorrow have input in the local government process today. The YAC also makes recommendations to the City Commission on policies and procedures affecting the community youths.

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