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City adopts final millage rate, budget

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By David Davis

Chiefland City Commissioners narrowly approved the new millage rate for Fiscal Year 2017-18 during the final budget meeting Monday.

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Resolution 17-09 adopts a final millage rate of 6.9850 is 17.46 percent greater than the rolled-back rate of 5.9468 and for that reason, Commissioners Teresa Barron and Rollin Hudson voted against the motion offered by Commission Donald Lawrence and seconded by Commissioner Chris Jones. Mayor Betty Walker joined Lawrence and Jones in voting for approval. The new rate is projected to raise $878,608 in taxable revenue.

With that done, commissioners voted by the same margin to approve Resolution 17-10 to set the budget at $5,023,904 in projected revenues and expenses.

During the regular meeting that was held before the budget meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to pass the second and final reading of Ordinance 17-04 Extending Moratorium on Cannabis Dispensing Businesses. Commissioners adopted Ordinance 17-02 on Feb. 27 that established a temporary six-month moratorium on cannabis dispensing businesses in the city of Chiefland. The temporary moratorium expired Aug. 27. The Commission voted unanimously Aug. 28 to extend the temporary moratorium six more months. Commissioners approved the first reading of the ordinance to extend the moratorium Sept. 12. Lawrence offered the motion that was seconded by Jones.

Commissioners tabled a decision on a Disaster Recovery Services contract with Grubbs Emergency Services. As discussed at the Sept. 12 meeting, State of Florida Executive Order 17-235 issued by Gov. Rick Scott waived the procedures and formalities required by law, policy and ordinance for entering contracts.

In the absence of a current agreement for disaster recovery services, Walker entered an agreement for debris removal services with Grubbs Emergency Services due to the impending Hurricane Irma. The agreement allows the city to piggyback on the agreement already in place between Levy County and Grubbs Emergency Services. The contract with the city would be modified.

Barron expressed reservations that piggybacking on the county agreement did not meet the competitive bidding process required by FEMA regulations. She also asked City Manager Mary Ellzey to contact Langston Tree Services as a possible contractor. Ellzey said Langston was no longer on the FEMA approved list of contractors, but she would attempt to contact the company. She said she tried after the last meeting, but was unsuccessful.

Commissioners approved a request by Beverly Goodman to plant a small community garden on the north side of its building with the aid of UF/IFAS Master Gardeners.

Commissioners also commended city staff for the good job of picking up debris and complimented the residents of Chiefland for getting their debris out to the street.

Ellzey introduced Belinda Wilkerson as the new planning and projects coordinator. Wilkerson is a Chiefland native who was the staff assistant in the Gilchrist County Zoning Department for the past 12 years where she over building permits. She replaced Seth Sache, who is now the accounting specialist for the city.

Stoney Smith offered his thanks to city staff and the Chiefland Police Department for the work of police officers during the evacuation of South Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. Police Chief Scott Anderson said he was told by Florida Department of Transportation that approximately 2 million vehicles passed through Chiefland during the week before Irma hit Sept. 10. Smith gave a check and box of candy to Anderson for the Halloween haunted house.