HIGH SPRINGS – The City of High Springs’ recent decision to terminate its contract with waste haulers GFL Environmental, Inc. was called into question at the Feb. 23 City Commission meeting. GFL’s Skip McCall requested that the City withdraw their notice of termination of services. The contract, which is set to expire in April 2024, has a clause that notification to terminate the contract must be made in July 2023.

McCall said he was unaware there were issues until receiving the notification to terminate the contract. Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham said he should have been aware of the issues since the City has communicated the problems to GFL’s staff on numerous occasions.

Although the Commission did not retract their decision, they directed City staff to meet with GFL to discuss problems the City has had with the company and possible resolutions.

GFL and staff will meet on March 14 and staff will come back to the Commission with the results.

Wild Spaces Distribution

The Commission approved a resolution for distribution of Wild Spaces Public Places funds over the period of the new sales surtax, which runs from Jan. 1, 2023 – Dec. 31, 2032. Alachua County requested that the cities unanimously support the distribution of funds.

In October, the Alachua County League of Cities approved a $375,000 split for each of the cities excluding Gainesville. The rational was that Gainesville receives an additional $3 million from Alachua County, apart from the $3 million grant that is split among all Alachua County municipalities. Gainesville was not present at the October Alachua County League of Cities meeting.

At the Feb. 9 City Commission meeting, several options for the split were discussed. During this Feb. 23 meeting, the Commission preferred the split among the eight municipalities with the exclusion of Gainesville, which would give each city $375,000. However, should this not be acceptable to Gainesville, the Commission would split the money nine ways which would provide $333,000 to each of the cities.

The Commission was reluctant to approve a nine-way split noting that $333,000 may not be enough money for the cities to accomplish a project.

The results of this vote will be conveyed to the Alachua County League of Cities which will convey the overall results of all of the cities to Alachua County.

Blue Gem Approved

A site plan for improvements to Blue Gem Motel was unanimously approved with conditions specified by the High Springs Plan Board. The motel is proposing to add a pole barn and fencing to their existing site. At the Plan Board meeting of Sept. 13, recommendations were made to gable the pole barn, columns to have brick wrapping to match the height of the existing painted area on the main building, make the fence wrought-iron along the road facing the highway, provide a rendering, and update the site plan.

According to the City’s Planning Technician II Kristyn Adkins, Blue Gem's site plan complies with all City regulations including those associated with the highway enhancement zone and the City’s new accessory structure ordinance.

ARPA Funds Usage

Gillingham reviewed American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and requested that the Commission rank the projects with the remaining $369,826 in mind. The city has set aside $1,040,000 for the sewer project. Gillingham said, “Should grant funding be found for that project, some or all of those funds may become available for the remaining projects.”

FY 2020-21 Audit

Brendan McKitrick of James Moore & Co. was on hand to review the2020-21 fiscal year audit. He reviewed the report briefly. As the audit report was not received early enough for Commissioners to review it and ask questions, McKitrick offered to meet one-on-one with each Commissioner to discuss the audit.

“Due to changes in staffing, this report has been delayed and the relevant state offices have been notified of the timeline,” said High Springs Finance Director Diane Wilson.

The second aspect of the audit report was for Commissioners to vote on accepting the report. Due to how late the report was received, this item was deferred to the next meeting for consideration.

Other Business

The City’s water tower will be off line for four to six weeks while 10-year maintenance is conducted. It is anticipated there will be workers accessing the water tower in mid-April to clean and paint. There will be no disruption in water to residents.

The City Commissioners and the Alachua County Board of Commissioners will meet in a joint session on April 20 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

A Push-In Ceremony will be held on March 14 at 9:30 a.m. at the High Springs Fire Station, 18586 N.W. 238th Street, High Springs. One of the new trucks is a Heavy Rescue 29 - a 2022 E-One Cyclone, built with advanced life support medical equipment, extrication tools and a host of other technical rescue equipment. The second new truck, an Engine 29 - a 2022 E-One Cyclone, is equipped with advanced life support medical equipment, extrication equipment, hoses, ladders and 1,000 gallons of water. The public is invited to the ceremony.

City utility customers can expect an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system to be implemented in the June to August timeframe. The new system will allow the City to remotely collect customer water usage data in real time. AMI uses radio-based technology to read water meters, which eliminates the need for manual meter reads and also provides real time use information for property owners.

Farm Share will be distributing food in High Springs on Saturday, March 11. Volunteers are needed to help distribute the food into vehicle trunks. Anyone interested in helping should contact Commissioner Byran Williams at 352-871-7988.

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