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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County Commission News

County Passes $96 mil Budget: 500 + south end families paying millions in inflated fire insurance rates ignored again

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night the Columbia County Commission voted for the 6th year in a row to leave south end County residents paying outrageous fire insurance rates because it refuses to put a fire substation or contract with the City of High Springs to supply fire service in the far south end of the county.

District IV Commissioner, Stephen Bailey, has been watching his south end constituents being squeezed for years, while the other south end commissioner, District II's Rusty DePratter has had time to get up to speed on this issue, but hasn't. The result: south end residents have paid millions in excess fire insurance premiums.

In 2007, the County was well aware of the solution for the loss of south end fire protection from High Springs. Columbia County could have contracted or formed an automatic mutual aid agreement with High Springs. Failing that, the County could have built a small fire substation for a minimal cost that would have saved home owners millions.

This year the County came up with a novel excuse for saddling these 500 + families with yet another year of exorbitant fire rates and the consequential reduction in safety. The County has budgeted a long overdue fire assessment study.

This past year Columbia County spent ten of thousands on grass for a recreational football field; it spent $55,000 for a study of a County convention center that will never pay for itself; it spent $500,000 of Columbia County tax payer dollars supporting a water group; and it gave hundreds of thousands to special interest groups.

Epilogue

While the County Commission always seems to find a buried coffee can of money somewhere to support its pet projects, it never remembers that families in the south end, who are being squeezed by excessive fire insurance rates, are the same ones that are keeping its coffee cans filled with money.

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