BOCC to approve ARP funds, join Union County case

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will meet Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. for its regular meeting, covering COVID-19, funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and redistricting.

COVID-19 discussion

The commissioners will hear an update from the Alachua County Department of Health regarding COVID-19 in Alachua County. No current action is planned.

After multiple weekly renewals, the county ended its mask mandate emergency order on Sept. 30. Cases in the county have dropped since mid-August, and the CDC reports 101 new hospital admissions from Oct. 1 to 7, a 28.87 percent decrease.

The Alachua County Department of Health opened a monoclonal antibody site in High Springs during the rise, and a new site in Gilchrist County will open Tuesday.

Funding GPD Co-Responders Team

The Gainesville Police Department (GPD) deploys Co-Responder Teams to handle mental health, substance abuse and other emotionally charged situations. The BOCC will consider finalizing a contract with Meridian Behavioral Healthcare to help fund an additional team. Each team consists of one GPD officer and one Meridian Behavioral Healthcare clinician.

The contract includes funding for three years, from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2023, and will cost the county $121,594 per year. But some of the funding will be reimbursed through a federal grant.

In the first six months of 2021, GPD’s Co-Responder Team saved the city more than $3.5 million in jail and Baker Act diversions.

Alachua County Corrections Evaluation

The commissioners will vote to approve an agreement with the Florida Corrections Accreditation Commission (FCAC) that will allow the FCAC to come and evaluate the county’s court services program.

County staff will review the FCAC report and bring any future actions or discussions to the BOCC.

The price tag of the initial evaluation will be $1,200 plus the cost of the assessors’ travel, lodging and per diem paid, according to the county’s travel and reimbursement policy

Join in Union County litigation

The BOCC will vote to approve agreements between itself, Union County and de la Parte & Gilbert, P.A. Currently, de la Parte & Gilbert, P.A., represents Union County in a case with HPS Enterprises II, LLC, over a proposed phosphate mine in Bradford and Union counties.

The BOCC looks to support Union County in the litigation and pay for its legal services because of the importance of the Santa Fe River to eco-tourism and a downstream user of the river.

Alachua County already has a budget for funding de la Parte & Gilbert, P.A., for fiscal year 2021 and will look to continue into 2022.

American Rescue Plan (ARP) projects

The BOCC will vote to approve a preliminary project plan to fund broadband through ARP funds at the price of $15 million. The county allocated the amount for broadband back in June when it first drafted where its $52 million in ARP funds would go.

The commission will also decide whether or not to greenlight a project plan and amendment for ARP funds used for an EMS training facility, medical equipment and supplies. The cost for this project is slated at $1.5 million.

The funds are broken down into five categories:

  • Gloves, decontamination supplies, disinfecting supplies, etc. which go above and beyond our normal use prior to COVID. The estimated cost will be $205,000.
  • Replacing radios in 34 Alachua County Fire Rescue vehicles. The estimated cost will be $170,000.
  • Adding a new rescue unit to be housed at Station 80. The estimated cost will be $375,000.
  • The purchase of 18 new Automatic Chest Compression Devices at an estimated cost of $400,000.
  • Renovating a newly acquired Alachua County Fire Rescue building that will house training and IT services. The total cost of the renovation is estimated at $450,000, but only $350,000 will be used from ARP funds.

Redistricting pubic workshop

The BOCC will listen to a public workshop of how the five county districts have been redrawn following the latest census.

County staff recommends the commission direct staff to prepare and advertise an ordinance that will adopt the current draft districts and schedule the item for a public hearing.

The total population of Alachua County increased from 247,336 in 2010 to 278,468 in 2020, meaning each district now included 55,694 citizens.

Approve Equity Plan Costs

The commission will vote to approve a citizen stipend, employee special duty pay and hiring an outside consultant as part of its equity plan. The cost to run the plan for 6 months will be $202,390.

Click here to view the Tuesday BOCC agenda.

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