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County closes another boat ramp

The Gilchrist County Commission met on April 16, at 10 a.m. in the County Commission Meeting Room.
The County Commission voted to close the  G.C. Butler Boat Landing after  Lt. Scotty Douglas of the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office explained to the Commissioners that citizens from mostly Suwannee and Columbia Counties have been congregating at the boat ramp in groups. The Commissioners chose to close the landing due to the Covid 19 distancing guideline in the Governor’s Executive Order. Commissioners  also extended Emergency Order 2020-01 until April 30, and added the G.C. Butler Landing to the list of closed boat ramps. The only other ramp that is closed in the county is the Highway 47 Boat Ramp  and Park.
The bid for the Gilchrist Annex remodel for the Tax Collector’s Office was approved by Commissioners. The recommendation was to take the bid submitted by Hoffman Construction  for $117,530.00 which includes wrapping the outside of the building with siding. The other bid that was accepted was from O’Cull Electric for Electrical new and updated, new security and internet update (Fiber) for $69,420.00. The county also added  contingency money of $10,000.00 in case unforeseen issues  arise during the  project. One of the items on the project that will be installed by O’Cull is a new security system which is required if Tax Collector Michael McElroy’s office will be issuing and renewing drivers licenses. Another item included in the bid will be to upgrade the fiber for the building and updating the fiber that runs into the Board of County Commissioner’s Meeting room which is next door to the Gilchrist Annex. The total cost of the project is not to exceed $196, 950.85.
Before the board unanimously agreed to fund the remodeling project Commissioner Sharon Akins Langford  asked Clerk of Court Todd Newton where the funds would come from for the project. Newton said there was $100,000 in reserve which would be used and the rest would be in the form of a loan. Langford ask him if he thought it was a good time to do the project financially because of the current state of the country, state and county due to the loss of income since the country had been shut down. The loss of sales tax revenue and other moneys which come from the state were discussed and it was brought up that the building would eventually pay for itself because of the fees that will be gleaned from drivers licenses. It was mentioned that now was a good time to borrow money due to low interest rates. Tax Collector Michael McElroy addressed the board explaining how helpless he felt when Gilchrist citizens called his office reporting that the other area Tax Collector’s Offices would only serve their own county residents due to the shut down. Residents of Gilchrist County can not get a drivers license at this time.
This Gilchrist Annex remodel will not affect the money that has been earmarked for the building of a jail.
County Administrator Bobby Crosby announced that road improvements at Spring Ridge subdivision were not likely. Several months ago some citizens in the Spring Ridge Subdivision requested that the county improve their roads by way of a special assessment, which means that the residents would pay for their road improvements within Spring Ridge Subdivision over time. County Administrator Bobby Crosby reported that the county had sent mail out asking the property owners if they were in favor of the road improvements. He reported the following information, 174 mail outs were sent, 13 came back as returned letters, 40 made no response, 57 were opposed and 64 supported the plan to improve roads. So far only 36.8 % are in favor. It is required that 70% of those living on the roadway have to approve the Special Assessment before it is approved. Crosby said he would like to put the Special Assessment Road Project at Spring Ridge on an upcoming county meeting agenda so residents of Spring Ridge could come to the meeting and have input. No action was taken on the matter.
The commissioners also agreed that no unfilled county positions will be filled at this time, with the exception of fire rescue positions. They are not sure how much revenue they can expect to receive from the state because of the shut down.