HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs City Commission and the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners met on Thursday, April 20 to discuss the 10-year, one percent local government infrastructure surtax, a trunk radio system and broadband service, among other issues.
The infrastructure surtax is split between Wild Spaces Public Places and roads, fire stations and other public facilities. The County estimates it will receive a county-wide total of $56 million per year in revenue from the surtax. The first half cent of the surtax is dedicated to Wild Spaces Public Places and the second half cent is dedicated to roads, fire stations and other public facilities. Of the second half cent, the County is proposing to allocate 70 percent to roadways and that the new surtax will generate approximately $11.7 million per year for roadways. The County commission will meet on May 23 to discuss municipal shares of the projected funds. It was estimated that High Springs will receive annually $921,625 and $460,000 for Wild Spaces Public Places projects.
Regarding planned road repairs, the County Commissioners stressed there is a limited budget and not all roads will be fixed in the first 10 years. Additional roads can be selected if revenues increase and the County will consider other road projects as grants are found.
The County is developing a Pavement Management Plan and included an inequity component to help identify roads that have not been addressed in a long time. Also, roads that have had 15 or more work orders recorded are added to the list of road projects the County may consider. According to County staff, the City of High Springs has several inequity areas under consideration in the improvement plan. Most of the highly traveled collector roads will be repaired and the work will begin this summer.
Turning to the Trunk Radio System, County Fire Chief Harold Theus said he thought they would be able to determine fixed prices soon but estimated that the City of High Springs would likely pay $26,400 per year for the next four years. He said the cost would possibly be less than the current system run by Gainesville Regional Utilities.
There may be help on the horizon for some High Springs residents who are struggling with broadband service. Much of High Springs is considered “underserved” by broadband service. American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are being designated to the tune of $15 million by the County to provide broadband services throughout Alachua County. Cox, Windstream and AT&T are all interested in serving parts of High Springs and other cities in the county.
In other business, High Springs City Manager Ashley Stathatos brought up possible expansion of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) district to include part of U.S. Highway 27. That expansion would require County approval. She reviewed some of the most recent projects the City has accomplished within the CRA district, new businesses that have recently come into town, new cross walks, planting of trees downtown, the Farmers Market, the recent Walldogs event, a tree-planting program along Railroad Avenue and a $1.2 million grant the City is applying for on behalf of the Priest Theater.
An item not on the agenda generated comments from some citizens expressing frustration that the City had not included the proposed utility district as a discussion item. At issue is an ordinance originally presented at the March 9 City Commission meeting that would create a utility district to expand the City’s service area and provide water and wastewater services along County Road 236 up to the Interstate 75/CR 236 interchange.
Citizens along that corridor expressed concerns that the City would force them to hook up to the utility services if the lines were installed. Although they have been informed by the City Attorney, the City Commission, the City Manager and the County Health Department that they would not be required to hook up, one citizen addressing the joint meeting emphasized several times that they were being lied to by the City.
# # #
alachuatoday.comAdd a comment