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When I first moved to Levy County and asked about why business was transacted in a way that was different from other places I was told, “Well, in Levy County we have our own way of doing things.”
I wondered if it was because this county is so cut off from most of the state and its wild and wacky lifestyles that folks developed their own way of doing business.
When I ask about whether change would come, a woman told me, “We are just country folks, it takes us a little while to adjust to change.”
As time goes on and the outside world intrudes with radio, TV, cable, satellite dishes, internet, Facebook, Twitter and other social media I see Levy County changing the way some things are done.
And that can be a good thing.
Take, for instance, that way the County Commission does business. I am told that at one time the county had a fleet management program for all its vehicles and equipment. Then I heard we didn't.
Well, I can confirm that we do have that now.
No longer will a sheriff be allowed to squirrel away money and come up with 19 new patrol cars on the last day of the budget year, saying it's money that was found.
And no longer will you have the situation Sheriff Bobby McCallum faces with 19 patrol vehicles that are three years old and 100,000 miles on them falling apart pretty much at the same time.
Hello, commissioners, send $500,000 for 19 vehicles. Love ya, Bobby.
Not happening. And the sheriff, for his part, did not ask for that. He instead got a half-dozen new vehicles in this year's budget and he will get some in next year's budget, and the next and the next. That way the office takes small bites of the taxpayer's money, instead of a huge one that makes us all wince.
In addition, the sheriff's office now keeps track of the vehicles, their conditions and prioritizes its purchases. Keep in mind that if the sheriff should need an infusion of cash to keep deputies on the road, the commission promised him he could come back and get it.
And this is the way vehicle purchases are being handled in every department by the commissioners. This change is a good thing.
Another step the commissioners have taken is prioritizing the county's capital improvements projects.
The old Levy County way was that every department head and commissioner and constitutional officer had a secret wish list in an unseen hip pocket, ready to pull it out if they sniffed fresh money in the county's coffers.
About anything that came close to a priority list in the past was the road paving list, and Road Department Administrative Supervisor Bruce Greenlee can tell you what a bear that is. But it is a public document, and changes to it are in the public eye. Roads can be shuffled around on the list, but changes come out in public meetings.
This capital improvements list thing is a big deal for Levy County.
Every department and constitutional officer got to pull out their wish list and expose it to the sunlight of public workshops and meetings where projects were discussed and ranked.
For now, it is a work in progress. But soon there will be a list for every Levy County taxpayer to see and know where their money is going.
And, hopefully, the county will have an orderly list of projects based on need and service to the residents, not some project pushed ahead of others because someone had the political juice to get it.
This Levy County way of doing business is good for all of us.
Lou Elliott Jones is editor for the Chiefland Citizen and Cedar Key Beacon. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.