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Columbia County Observer

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County Commission News

Columbia County's 1st Budget Hearing
"I'd like to thank everybody for comin."

Everyone visible in the photo works for the County except for the man seated in the front row. As County Manager Dale Williams, in dark jacket, presents the budget, the Board Chairman is headed to the side door. It is not clear if this was to answer his phone or to spit.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL - Last night and once again, Columbia County's infamous County Commission has scheduled this year's budget hearings on nights that don't fall on the regular schedule of County Commission meetings. Up and until the mid 2000's, the County scheduled one of its budget hearings to accommodate the public at one of its regularly scheduled board meetings. These meetings were lively and generally well attended – no more.

The major sources of County revenue. Click here.

Since that time, the County Commission has bent over backwards to make sure none of its budget hearings fall on a night when the public doesn't have to make a special trip to attend and ask questions. For some county residents, this would mean drives of up to 90 plus miles round trip to attend.

This year's first hearing of the homeless County Commission kicked off with Board Chairman Jody DuPree announcing to the all but empty school board auditorium, "I'd like to thank everybody for comin."

During County Manager Dale Williams' budget presentation, Commissioner DuPree got up and walked out of the side door to apparently answer a phone call or spit. It was not clear which.

In attendance at this meeting were a few members of the County staff and the Sheriff, Mark Hunter, who unlike his predecessor, does not attend County Commission meetings and does not present his budget, which is about a quarter of the county budget, at a regularly scheduled board meeting or at any meeting where the public might be able to ask him questions.

County revenue still heading down

This year the County revenues are down $1,200,000. Last year County revenue was down $700,000.

The County has not raised taxes to make up for the short fall for the past two years.

The special assessments for fire and garbage have also remained the same for this period.

Pie chart courtesy of Columbia County


* Barbara Lemley contributed to this article


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

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