What's a city for?
Published: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 11:44 p.m.
While we're on the subject of elected officials talking about their differences, the County Commission and the City of Newberry have also been having communications problems. But not for much longer, perhaps.
This week Newberry sought authority to create a community redevelopment area that would allow for the use of tax dollars for downtown redevelopment and urban revitalization. "The whole idea is to prevent sprawl," Newberry city planner Lowell Garrett said of the request.
The County Commission turned the idea down. Not because it likes sprawl, but because commissioners wanted to get Newberry's attention focused on another issue: law enforcement.
Newberry is among a handful of small towns that have for years depended on the Alachua County Sheriff's Office for routine law enforcement. But residents of those towns do not pay the county MSTU tax, which funds sheriff's patrols. And so county officials have long been urging those municipalities to either start their own departments or contract with the Sheriff's Office for police services.
"I want to deny this today and have them bring it back when they have the law enforcement issue worked out," County Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut said of the redevelopment proposal. She told Newberry officials, "This gives you an incentive to work out law enforcement."
It's too bad it had to come to this. But this issue has been on the table for years, and county commissioners have been very patient in dealing with the small municipalities.
The whole point of being a city is to provide essential public services, not to shelter residents from having to pay for them. It is difficult to argue that police protection is not an essential public service.
Now that the county has gotten Newberry's attention, perhaps the law enforcement issue will soon be resolved.
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