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County Commission: Will your fire and solid waste assessments rise?

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

During the meeting of the Board of Madison County Commissioners on Tuesday, July 25, the Commissioners set a meeting for a public hearing to consider the assessment rates for fire protection and solid waste collection in Madison County. The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m. in the Madison County Courthouse. Currently, the assessment for fire protection is $25 per dwelling unit for residential citizens of the county. The current assessment for solid waste collection and disposal is $194 per dwelling unit.

Because of new legislative mandates, the county would have to raise the fire assessment $11 per dwelling unit, simply to maintain the current level of fire protection. Any improvements sought for fire protection would call for that assessment rate to be higher. Based on a study conducted on behalf of the county for the current proposed budget amount of $562,306, the maximum assessment rate would be $78 per dwelling unit. The Commissioners were careful to point out the $78 rate is not necessarily the rate citizens will be charged, it is the maximum rate citizens can be charged in order to meet the current budgetary requests and needs. “It really all boils down to what kind of fire protection do people want?” said Commissioner Rick Davis. Part of that $562,306 budget includes replacing and improving aging fire equipment for the various volunteer fire departments. It also includes funding for a paid “Fire Coordinator” position to coordinate activities of the various volunteer fire departments in the county, training and recruitment of volunteer firefighters, as well as other improvements to current fire services. Even if the assessment is set at the maximum rate of $78 per dwelling unit, that would still be below the rate for many other north Florida counties. Currently, Jefferson County residents pay $101 per dwelling unit, Franklin County residents pay $95 per dwelling unit and Leon County residents pay $181 per dwelling unit. Non-residential assessment rates are based on the square footage of the property's buildings. The proposed maximum rate for commercial buildings is $0.04 per square foot. The proposed maximum rate for institutional buildings is $0.03 per square foot. The proposed maximum rate for industrial/warehouse buildings is $0.06 per square foot. There is a 97,700 square foot cap on commercial, institutional and industrial/warehouse buildings.

The maximum proposed assessment rate for solid waste collection and disposal services is $237 per dwelling unit for residential citizens. There is no assessment rate for solid waste collection and disposal services for commercial properties.

These rates are determined based on a study conducted by Government Services Group from Tallahassee, Fl. The study was conducted in order to determine the most fair and equitable way to divide the monetary burden of both fire protection services and solid waste collection and disposal services for the residents of Madison County. The proposed rates are the maximum rates allowable based on this study.

In other business for the Board, the Commissioners approved the consent agenda for the meeting. The consent agenda included approval of a letter of support for the establishment of a new foreign trade zone project being submitted by the Tallahassee International Airport. Also on the consent agenda was the approval to surplus a Chevy Impala from the Madison County Cooperative Extension Office.

The Board awarded a bid of approximately $571,000 to Preferred Materials for NE Rocky Springs Church Road roadway improvements. There was also discussion regarding the utilization of a paid inmate work squad from Madison Correctional Institute (MCI). The cost to the county for a full-time work squad from MCI would be approximately $58,000 per year for a correctional officer and vehicle. The work squad would consist of five inmates and a correctional officer and would work 40 hours per week. All necessary equipment would be provided by the County. Also included in the contract would be a two-week paid vacation for the officer, plus one per year reserved for training. No action was taken by the Board.

After a public hearing, the Board approved a temporary use permit application request from a Mr. and Mrs. Gronskis to allow for a second dwelling on NE Cactus Ave., in Lee. Another public hearing was held on enactment of an ordinance to add business and professional offices under special exceptions uses in residential land use. After no public comment, the ordinance was passed. Another public hearing followed regarding an application by Ben Jones for a special exception in residential land use. The Board approved the special exception. This will allow Jones to operate a Real Estate Office out of his formerly residential property.

Stuart Scott and members of the American Legion Post 224 in Cherry Lake presented US flags to members of the Board who had sponsored the flags that had flown around the courthouse earlier in the summer. Sponsorship of the flags served as a fundraiser for the American Legion Post in order to sponsor educational programs.

There was discussion regarding the application for  a construction grant for a new building for the Greenville Public Library. The Board voted to authorize the Suwannee Valley Regional Library to apply for the construction grant.

Crawford Powell made a presentation to the Board regarding an 85 million dollar grant for the State of Florida for economic development projects. This grant is for projects across the entire state. The Board authorized the submission for three projects:

Site prep for the industrial park

Natural gas pipeline extension

Water and sewer on State Road 14 to the interstate.

The Board considered the review and approval of the loan commitment and construction estimate for Certified Service Center, Inc. Ann Vickers from Certified Service Center informed the Board she had received approval from Madison County Community Bank for a loan in the amount of $731,000 to cover the cost of construction of a new auto service center and NAPA store to be located on Dale Leslie Dr., in Madison. An estimate from TL Renfroe for the construction of the facility was also presented. At the advice of Board attorney Tom Reeves, the Board took no action.

The next meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 9, at 9 a.m., in the board meeting room, located at 229 SW Pinckney St., in Madison.

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