BOCC split on landfill director’s authority

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

BRONSON —The downsized Levy County Commission had its first dissenting vote when it decided by a 2-1 vote to give Solid Waste Department Director Benny Jerrels permission to sign off on Environmental Protection Agency documents.

The commission, which normally acts on everything by unanimous vote, disagreed publicly during its regular meeting on Tuesday morning at the county courthouse. Even in the days before two commissioners were suspended after being indicted on federal charges of influence peddling the board rarely had a dissenting vote.

Commission Chair Nancy Bell was opposed to giving Jerrels the authority to sign off on federal EPA paperwork.

“I have a problem with all the documents being signed,” she said.

“The buck stops here,” she said. “This board is responsible.” She asked, “Why are we doing this now?” and “Why change it if it’s not a problem/”

Commissioner Danny Stevens argued that the solid waste staff is working with the EPA on a day-to-day basis. “We’re saving money by not having Mr. Jerrels and the engineers having to come before the board every time.”

Stevens said, “Why not allow the director to do his job for the landfill, instead of going to come to the board or running down the chairman?”

Stevens, who made the motion, seconded by Lilly Rooks, called for the question to end debate on the matter. The vote was 2-1, with Bell dissenting.

All the other votes in the meeting were 3-0, including:

Approving several items for the Nature Coast Transit, including purchasing four new mobile routing units from Route Match Software, Inc., of Atlanta, Ga., for $18,783, including system support and software maintenance fee. The system is already in use on the fleet and these new units are an expansion.

The grant applications approved include:

— An 80/10/10 match for $65,000 with the federal government providing $52,000, the Florida Department of Transportation providing $6,500 and the county paying in $6,500. The money will be used to purchase a 22-foot vehicle and equip it with one mobile routing unit and a two-way radio.

— The second grant approved would be a 50/50 match for $350,000 with $175,000 in federal funds and $175,000 in local funds. The money will be used in operations.

— The third grant would provide $206,500 in capital funds and $250,000 in operational funds. The capital grant would be an 80/10/10 match with the federal government paying $165,200, and the state and county each paying $20,650. The operational grant would be a 50/50 federal-local match.

The last grant would be used to purchase a 26-foot, 16-passenger, lift-equipped bus with a gasoline hybrid parallel drive, known as the green option, for $195,000, the Route Match mobile unit for $4,000, and $6,500 for a destination sign.

The bus’ primary use will be for transporting Levy County residents to and from Gainesville for work. It is anticipated the bus will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily providing transportation for low income, elderly and disabled. It would route through Williston, Bronson, Chiefland, Fanning Springs, and Gainesville.

Tabled by the commissioners was:

—A request by the county school board for work on a practice field and raising of bleachers on the “home” side of Bronson High’s football field. Bruce Greenlee, head of the county Road Department, said more details needed to be worked out before the matter can come to the commissioners.

—A new union contract for Emergency Medical Service workers. County Coordinator Freddie Moody said there needs to be another executive session between the county and union negotiators before it can be considered by the commission.