County's legislative goals center on existing programs
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 10:59 p.m.
More money for existing programs rather than launching new initiatives will be the goal of the Alachua County Commission in the coming sessions of the Florida Legislature and U.S. Congress.
Commissioners met Tuesday afternoon to review their 2005 state and federal legislative agenda.
The programs include money for a countywide planning process, a garden for physically disabled children and for the Archer Clinic.
Commissioners also will support several statewide programs including aid to small cities needing water and sewer system upgrades, money to help homeless people, money for neighborhood preservation and improvements, and more cash for state parks.
"It's continuation funding. Nothing is new," Chairwoman Cynthia Chestnut said. "We also want clarification on some things. We want to be sure of the language that is put in bills so that we can implement it accordingly."
The annual legislative delegation day will be Jan. 20. The county's state senator and representatives will meet with local officials and organizations to review their requests. The regular legislative session runs from March 8 through May 6.
Specific appropriations sought by the county include continued funding for the Archer Clinic. The clinic was created in 2001 to provide primary care and health services to rural residents in Alachua, Marion, Levy and Gilchrist counties. It is run in conjunction with the University of Florida.
The state has given money to the clinic the past few years but the amount is going down - it was $145,619 last year - and may be phased out entirely. The county wants the state to change the status of the clinic so that it is placed in the budget annually.
Also sought is $250,000 for the Alexander Cook Bowen Children's Garden at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. It will be a hands-on learning center for physically disabled children.
A $150,000 earmark is wanted for a joint planning process between the county and the municipalities. The process is already under way.
The county's federal requests include money for programs for at-risk children, poverty reduction, rural utilities, environmental projects and transportation needs.
"Nothing has changed as far as the priorities - we are still going for poverty reduction in several programs," Commissioner Lee Pinkoson said.
Commissioners also want clarification on some items from a federal spending bill for 2005 approved in November.
Commissioner Mike Byerly, for instance, wants the county to learn how a request for money to help pave SW 24th Avenue as a two-lane road evolved into a federal appropriation of $3 million for a four-lane road.
Also in the federal budget was a $150,000 contribution for a street-scaping project. Commissioners believe it is for a requested infrastructure project, but street-scaping was not part of the work plan.
"I think we need a definition of what street-scaping is. We need to know if what we want is what street-scaping is," Chestnut said.
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article