Shared funding of Lake City road improvement project off the table. Will LSHA Berry's lobbying pay off?
Columbia County, FL (Posted September 6, 2011 10:05 am)
On the City's docket tonight is Lake City's Franklin Street Road project, which is designed to benefit the Lakeshore Hospital Authority. Early in August, City Manager Johnson voiced his approval of the project, but was not in favor of the funding.
Mr. Johnson told the Observer, "When the design is finished it would be advantageous to the City Council and the Hospital Authority to discuss the funding arrangements. Mr. Berry has been opposed to this."
Link: City Manager Johnson's report to the Council is here.
Mr. Johnson told the Observer that he made the suggestion at various city meetings.
For the past couple of months Jack Berry has been lobbying the City Council members for the Hospital Authority Board. This is ex parte communication, which should be divulged by the City Council members tonight.
Authority Manager Berry had ample opportunity to come before the City Council to make his case publicly instead of in the shadows. He never showed up.
Everything under control
During one Hospital Authority meeting, when the subject of a joint workshop between the City and the Authority was brought up, Authority Manager and past Republican Chieftain Berry told the Authority Board that there wasn't going to be a meeting and that he had everything under control.
Authority Board Chairman Koby Adams, the Chief of Staff of Representative Elizabeth Porter, said he would be commenting about Mr. Berry's City Councilmember lobbying efforts at a Hospital Authority Board meeting. He never did.
Early in August, City Manager Johnson told the Observer, "I think this is a worthwhile project. The City would not have committed to funding the engineering study if I didn't think so."
The Lake City Community Redevelopment Agency spent almost $22,000 for design and engineering services for the proposed project.
Tonight, City Manager Johnson is suggesting all the residents of the City fund this project through Sales Tax Bond revenues, putting them on the hook for at least the next two decades.
City Manager Johnson's joint meeting never took place.
With the Lakeshore Hospital Authority rolling in a sea of cash and Lake City suffering a real unemployment rate of about 20%, it is difficult to understand why the Authority is not willing to put up its fair share for a road improvement that benefits folks that work for a private hospital and whose head honchos drive around in BMW's and Mercedes.