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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County News

County Commission Rules: Handicapped can wait. Field of Dreams put on hold again

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night Florida's legendary good ole boy County Commission handed out a County tax exemption to United States Cold Storage to create 15 jobs at an annual cost to the County tax payers of $8,122 per job or $1,121,828 over ten years at the present tax rate. Then the Commission approved a 1% hike in the hotel Bed Tax to promote tourism in the County. The County recently approved $3,000,000 to improve the sports complex without any future plans to build the special purpose handicapped accessible Field of Dreams. The Observer asked the Commission to agree to build the Field of Dreams as a condition to increasing the BED tax. The County Commission ruled the handicapped and the Field of Dreams can wait.

Newly elected Commissioner Bucky Nash may have agreed about the need for the Field of Dreams. He responded to the Observer's request this way:

Commissioner Bucky NashI totally agree with him and if you look further down on the agenda we are going to start an advisory board. It is something that has been kicked around this county for a long time.

One of the things you got to remember is it is about the Bed Tax and we are looking into the teams coming in, but it's really not about the teams coming in, it's about economic impact. You get to raise the penny and improve the sports complex and activities for the children in your community. So we are working towards spending the money wisely.

The numbers that have been thrown out there – three million – two million – whatever – I would ask the public to wait until we get done and when we finish phase I, which we obligated $871,000 – let us come with what we actually spend and maybe we can gain a little credibility moving forward so you understand what we're doing.

Links:
 • County Commission Rules: Handicapped can wait. Field of Dreams put on hold again (2/22/2013)

 • County Commission Has Residents on the Run: $$$ Millions of improvements leave out ADA Miracle Field - Meeting Tonight (1/15/2013)

 • Columbia County – Will it build a Miracle Field where all the children can play? (11/21/2011)

 • Pop Warner Football scores a $10,000 touchdown as County funds tighten (4/23/2011)

The Bed Tax ordinance on which the Commission was about to vote states in relevant part the following: The additional one percent tourist development tax shall be used for the purpose of promoting and advertising the county and its tourism industry, nationally and internationally.

Nowhere in the ordinance did it state as Commissioner Nash claimed, "You get to raise the penny and improve the sports complex and activities for the children in your community."

Commission Chair Stephen Bailey joined in the discussion, "The last meeting we gave for TOPS soccer which specifically targets handicapped kids to be able to purchase equipment and go for training. We started in that step to get there. I support the fact that handicapped children have just as much right to do what they are able to do with their limitations as anyone else that's perfectly healthy."

Long time Commissioner Ronald Williams added, "I thought I missed something because I remember the Board – I think – we allocated $25,000 or somethin for that program."

On February 7, the Commission granted the Columbia Youth Soccer Association $13,000 for the TOPS program, without approving or viewing any budget for the expenditure of Columbia County Taxpayer money which is supporting that program.

Commissioner Williams moved that the 4th penny be added to the BED tax.

Without any further discussion the Commission unanimously passed the increase in the BED tax.

Epilogue

The Field of Dreams and the handicapped can wait. In the Land of Columbia County's good ole boys, that may mean forever.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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