Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Columbia County 5 Say "No" to 2021 Residential Trash Assessment: saving residents $4,000,000

Photo: Shane Rounce/Unsplash

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – As Thursday's three hour County 5 meeting drew to a close, Commissioner Bucky Nash asked for an explanation from County Manager Ben Scott for tax relief for Columbia County residents.

The only time tax relief can be found in any County record occurred at an  April 20, 2020 workshop, when during a discussion about the coronavirus pandemic, Commissioner Witt said, "We're gonna' have to probably look at some taxpayer relief, or I'm gonna' be propossin' it when it's all over, as soon as we recover from this.

Commissioner Nash addressed County Manager Ben Scott, "We discussed this at our workshops, about giving some tax relief. I would like for you to explain how that is going to work."

Mr. Scott answered, "Basically, I'm going to use a rough number, four million dollars is what the garbage assessment brings into the County. That funding is restricted. It is in the MSBU (Municipal Services Benefit Unit) fund. [It] does have some excess reserve in it right now. Also, part of what builds into the garbage assessment fee are landfill fees."

He continued, "What you can do is take some of your MSBU excess reserve and some of your landfill excess reserve to cover that $4 mil short fall that you would lose by not having the garbage 'unintelligible'. Basically, the garbage assessment rate would just be set at zero for the year."

Commissioner Ronald Williams added, "In that you're gonna' show me where it keeps the landfill whole 'unintelligible'."

County Manager Scott said, "Yes sir. We'll be able to show where we're at; when we're projecting the next cell and what the 'unintelligible' gonna' be."

Commissioner Williams responded, "Great."

Chairman Witt joined the conversation, "I think it's good and we did discuss tax relief in the budget process. The feds are done; the state's done and so on. It's only fitting that the County does it. This is better than a millage reduction in the sense that it benefits all our residents and not just our 'unintelligible' pay taxes; so I'm in favor of this.'

Commissioner Rocky Ford weighed in, "Right now we are faced with the worst pandemic of our lives. People are out of work. Several businesses have been closed. I know this is probably not the best time for us to do somethin' like this with our budget, but it's the right thing to do. We need to try and help our people out in this County... it's gonna' save them about $200 a year."

Commissioner Nash rejoined the conversation, "I agree. I think with this 'unintelligible' we can make a good impact for the community."

Commissioner Murphy closed out the conversation, "This is more dollars in the constituent's pocket and I think it's the right thing to do at the right time. This is a pandemic that 'unintelligible'.

Chairman Witt said, "Can I have a motion?"

Commissioner Nash said, "You have a motion."

Commissioner Murphy seconded the motion.

It was unanimous, but nobody made a motion.

County Manager Scott asked, "The motion was to set the garbage assessment at zero, right?"

Commissioner Nash: "Yes."

Commissioner Williams added, "And the reason why. And the reason why you 'unintelligible'."

Next year, the residents of Columbia County that are paying for trash pickup will not be charged any assessment.

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