The Alachua County Legislative Delegation heard requests for funding from elected officials across the county on Wednesday at Santa Fe College, including pay raises for state employees and support for local projects.
State Attorney Brian Kramer and Public Defender Stacy Scott both requested a minimum salary of $75,000 for assistant state attorneys and public defenders in their offices. Scott noted that new graduates come after seven years of higher education with debt, making larger salaries elsewhere more attractive.
“They’re asked to do extremely important tasks that are vital, not only to our criminal justice system but to our democracy as a whole,” Scott said.
Kramer said the number of attorneys in his office has dropped from 52 to 42. He also asked the delegation to provide funding for staff working in victim advocacy. Kramer said he has been told the funds for those positions will end.
Newly appointed Alachua County Sheriff Emery Gainey also supported funding for victim advocacy programs. He asked the lawmakers to support bonuses for deputies that have occurred the past couple of years. He said the bonuses will help increase retention as the office struggles with vacancies.
Chair Tina Certain of the School Board of Alachua County asked for increased transportation funding. She said workers often obtain their CDL with the district before moving to better paying jobs, and the district continues struggling with bus issues.
She added that the district would request the Legislature use the same regulations on public schools and private schools that use state dollars.
Within higher education, President Paul Broadie II of Santa Fe College asked for support with deferred maintenance of buildings and for a new automotive technology training center. UF Vice President Mark Kaplan asked for an extra $5.6 million to support a growing Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).
Representatives for most Alachua County cities also came forward. The following are the top requests made on Wednesday.
- City of Alachua: funding for a new senior center facility
- City of Gainesville: funding for pedestrian safety and support for 8th Avenue and Waldo Road renovation
- City of Hawthorne: funding to renovate, harden and add generators to wastewater lift stations
- City of High Springs: funding for a new police station
- Town of Micanopy: funding to continue enhanced water projects
- City of Newberry: funding for regional wastewater facility and joint research center with UF/IFAS
- City of Waldo: funding for sprinkler system at Constellation Charter School, opened this year
Alachua County Board of County Commissioner Chair Anna Prizzia also spoke and highlighted three requests by the county: $1.4 million for an initial study of Newnans Lake to address hydrologic function, funds to expand Archer Road, and $2.7 million to support the World Masters Athletics Indoor Championship in 2025.