County to tackle trail dividing Haile residents Tuesday


Published: Monday, September 24, 2012 at 8:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 24, 2012 at 8:19 p.m.

The Alachua County Commission will revisit a trail proposal that has divided residents of Haile Plantation Tuesday at a 5 p.m. public hearing.

Facts

IF YOU GO

When: 5 p.m. Tuesday

Where: County Administration Building, 12 SE First Street

Second floor, Jack Durrance Auditorium, Room 209

The federally funded, 2.2-mile portion of the trail would run along 46th Boulevard and 91st Street as part of the Archer Braid Trail, which eventually would run from the city of Archer to the University of Florida and beyond.

Haile Plantation residents are divided on the issue. Opponents say another trail would be redundant because the area has several and they worry the trail would increase crime.

An alternate route supported by opponents would connect Archer Road directly to Tower Road, bypassing Haile Plantation.

A ballot on the issue, administered by neighborhood homeowners associations, was mailed to Haile Plantation homeowners and had a Monday deadline. The results should be presented at the meeting.

The commission has received a flurry of emails about the trail from county residents. A few questioned the fairness of the neighborhood vote because the homeowners associations overseeing it oppose the Haile route.

The public hearing on the trail will be held after one on the fiscal year 2012-13 budget. This will be the second of two hearings on the budget, on which the commission is expected to give final approval at the meeting.

Sheriff Sadie Darnell will attend the budget hearing to clear up “misleading” information provided by Commissioner Mike Byerly regarding the county General Fund budget for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

Darnell said Byerly’s assertion that it would get a $1.8 million increase doesn’t take departmental budget reductions into account.

While the Sheriff’s Office is set to receive an additional $1.8 million, most of that money is for county jail expenses, she said. The jail is a county responsibility the Sheriff’s Office manages under contract.

Currently, the Sheriff’s Office’s General Fund budget is $65,686,111, but next fiscal year it will be $65,837,277 if the county approves the budget at the meeting, she said.

That is a net increase of $151,166.

Those figures take into account several reductions Darnell made to the departmental budget, including a nearly $200,000 reduction in its fleet account and about a $300,000 reduction resulting from her agreement to adjust the jail’s staffing plan from two years to three.

The budget also dropped by about $250,000 because she and Acting County Manager Richard Drummond agreed to shift the cost of HIV medicine for inmates from the sheriff’s budget to the county’s. This is a neutral shift, since that money is still being spent.

Darnell said it was important to address this issue, and related resident concerns, on record at the meeting.

Byerly could not be reached for comment.

Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gvillesun.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/morganwatkins26.

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