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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

A Lot Is Going On In Lake City: Meet Vince Akhimie – Tonight – New Asst. City Manager

LAKE CITY, FL – A last minute change to Lake City's agenda has Lake City's new Assistant City Manager, Vince Akhimie, introducing himself to the public and staff members at 5:15 pm this evening before the Council meeting is gaveled to order at 6 pm. City Manager Helfenberger said, "There will be snacks."

Vince Akhimie
See Vince Akhimie, Engineer, Certified Public Manager, Utilities Expert, Chosen to be Asst. City Manager

There is a lot going on in Lake City these days with utility expansion, the expansion of Bell Road into a logistics corridor, and the 441/41 I-75 expansion and development.

Waste water will be an issue

The St. Margret's Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) is so old that replacement parts are no longer available. This is a project that will be facing the new Assistant City Manager when he officially goes on the clock on the 18th.

Over the weekend, City Manager Helfenberger said about St. Margret's, "The parts are so old you are not going to get replacement parts. The aeration basin needs to be rebuilt. We need to do it while it works, not wait for a disaster... We need to be proactive on that. We can do that when we refinance the utility debt. The cost would be almost level, a little bit of savings. You'd shore up a huge problem which would be a catastrophe if it happened."

The City's bond counsel and big money financial advisor, Jim Gollahan, is making a presentation this evening about refinancing the City utility debt.

Your reporter asked the City Manager, "With all that is going on, I guess Vince going to have his hands full?"

City Manager Helfenberger answered, "Exactly. He'll be doing what he loves."

City Manager Helfenberger
He does not lead from the back of the pack.

Joe Helfenberger: City ManagerCity Manager Helfenberger is not a micro manager. The new City Organizational Chart shows the new assistant city manager will be overseeing the airport, public works, information technology, utilities, natural gas, and the waste water treatment plants, as well as drinking water and new utility construction and design.

City Manager Helfenberger lets people do what they are supposed to do.

He said about Mr. Akhimie, "I felt very comfortable with him at the interview. He was relaxed - kind of matter of fact – and it will be really nice to have an engineer and manager with his qualifications on board."

With the City Council approved Blanche project, which is like an I-V in the City's arm draining its finances (Council members Moses, Jefferson, and the Mayor voted for the Blanche project), finances are front and center for the City Manager.

Mr. Helfenberger said that while he will be hands off with the new Assistant City Manager, he needs to keep his finger on the City's financial pulse and those financial "specifics" he needs in real time.

Mr. Helfenberger said, "I like to know every day where I am on finance. Other than that, he's [Mr. Akhimie] got the authority to go ahead and do things. He needs to use it."

Epilogue

Unlike its neighbors across the street, where the County 5 (the commissioners) can't keep their noses out of interfering in the County's day to day business, the City Council members do what they are supposed to do: set policy and pass resolutions and ordinances.

In that atmosphere, Mr. Akhimie, with the full support of the City Manager and the City Council, will be able to do his job unencumbered by Columbia County's good ole' boy politics.

That is a good thing, because it is a big job.

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