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Gilchrist resident complaints and Impact Fees topics at Commission meeting

The Gilchrist County Commission listened to Joyce Ferrante on Monday September 17th when the Gilchrist resident explained that she has experienced problems involving the truth and honesty relating to her probation and during the time she was in jail in Gilchrist County. She told the Commission that she had been charged for food and laundry and never used either of these services during her time in the Gilchrist County Jail. She explained that she had not come before the board to point fingers at anyone, but she was asking for prayer about the issues of truth and honesty and for people to come together and be honest in the judicial system in Gilchrist County.
Gilchrist County Commission Chairman D. Ray Harrison, Jr. explained to the Gilchrist resident that the Board of County Commission does not advise or tell the Gilchrist County Sheriff how to operate and run his office, the sheriff is a constitutional officer and thus is elected by the people of Gilchrist County.
Chairman Harrison asked the sheriff he wanted to comment on anything that Ferrante had told the Commission.
Sheriff Bobby Schultz explained, “God does shine his light in Gilchrist County.” He added, “I can’t discuss the particulars involving the lady’s case, but if she has a better way for the sheriff’s office to operate, we would be glad to hear her out.” “I am very proud of the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office and the staff involved in the operation of the Gilchrist County Jail,” Sheriff Bobby Schultz added.
Chairman Harrison explained to Ferrante that she could communicate with the administration in the Sheriff’s Office and work out her issues.
The Commission discussed four recommendations involving the Tourist Development Council, which were a part of the Gilchrist County Administrator’s report. The Gilchrist Tourist Development Committee recommended the approval of the TDC sponsorship of the Gilchrist Rotary Club “Poker Paddle” event at a fee of $250. The committee recommended approval of a ¼ page advertisement with Columbia County in the Visit Florida Transportation map. This advertisement was estimated to cost $2,700 and is budgeted by revenues that are funded from the 2% bed tax that is collected in Gilchrist County. The TDC recommended approval of a 1/6 co-op advertisement with Taylor County in the Visit Florida travel magazine with funds not to exceed $700. The Commission also received a recommendation to approve Trenton Mayor Lee Deen to represent Gilchrist County on the “Original Florida Tourism Task Force”. Chairman Harrison called for a decision by the board as a motion to approve was made by Commissioner Langford and Commissioner Poitevint gave a second. The Commission supported the motion by a 5-0 vote.
The Commission discussed the reimplementation of Impact Fees in Gilchrist County. The Gilchrist County Commission in 2012 suspended charging $3500 each for residential Impact Fees. Gilchrist Attorney David M. Lang, Jr. explained that neighboring counties of Dixie, Levy and Alachua all currently charge Impact Fees. The counties to the north, Suwannee and Columbia do not charge Impact Fees.
Commissioner Langford explained that if Gilchrist County had been charging Impact Fees in 2016, the county would have received an additional $390,500 in revenues into the General Fund. Mrs. Langford recommended Gilchrist County implement a residential Impact Fee of $2,500 beginning in 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Commissioner Gray explained, “I’m generally opposed to Impact Fees because I’m concerned that these taxes and fees push new residents and business to go somewhere else instead of Gilchrist County.”
Commissioner Thomas asked Attorney Lang about the current growth that is occurring in Gilchrist County. “Growth in Gilchrist County is currently booming,” Lang explained to the Commission. Attorney Lang explained the Impact Fees have a tendency to impact the lower income scale public that moves into a county.
Ray Rauscher told the Commission that he agreed with Commissioner Gray involving the enacting an Impact Fee in Gilchrist County. “If the County is going to enact this Impact Fee, they should charge mobile homes a higher fee than new site built structures. New site built homes will pay an Ad Valorem property fee when it is completed and the value of the new construction increases instead of losing value each year. Lowell Chesborough told the Commission that he has mixed feeling involving the Impact Fees. “I feel they are grossly unfair, because they are a form of double taxation.”
Todd Newton, Gilchrist Clerk of Court asked Attorney Lang what the Commission would have to do in order to enact the Impact Fee. Mr. Lang explained that the Commission would have to amend Ordinance 2011-01 before the Impact Fees would go into effect. The Commission took no action on the discussion, but will take up this issue again in a future meeting.