Gainesville commission to tackle masking, ARP funds

The Gainesville City Commission will discuss and vote on a number of topics at its regular meeting Thursday, including the city’s Zero Waste Plan, American Rescue Plan funds and a special election to fill Commissioner Gail Johnson’s seat.

The full agenda is available on the city website, along with supporting documents.

The commission will decide whether to continue and expand the Black on Black Crime Task Force for the next year. The task force is a non-profit that partners with the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) to prevent gun crime.

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The staff recommendation would hire two violence interrupters for $105,000, funded by freezing two GPD officer positions.

Kessler Consulting Inc. will present its audit of the Zero Waste Plan and recommend its strategies moving forward, including food waste recovery, construction and demolition debris recycling, and the promotion of reuse.

The commission will also discuss disbursement of the $32 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds it received. The commission canceled a special meeting for the ARP funds that had been scheduled for Aug. 25.

Thursday’s meeting will let the commission discuss and direct staff on how to move forward with proposal selection.

A special election to fill Commissioner Gail Johnson’s seat is also on the agenda. Johnson, who was reelected earlier this year, announced her resignation at an Aug. 23 meeting and said her last day would be Sept. 30.

The staff recommends that the commission authorize the city clerk to engage the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office to hold a special election, with qualifying open Sept. 20-24. The election itself would be held Nov. 16.

The recommendation also lists a $200,000 budget advance to the election office to cover costs.

The commission will encourage businesses to mandate masking and COVID-19 vaccines for employees.

The resolution reads “the city urges all local employers, both public and private, to mandate masking and vaccination of all employees that work in our community. . . .”

This comes after the city commission mandated all city employees and contractors to get the shot, prompting a 201-person lawsuit last week.

The city will also vote to officially rename the park at J.J. Finley Elementary School to Carolyn Beatrice Parker Park, mirroring the new school name, and Loblolly Woods would change to Loblolly Woods Nature Park.

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