Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007

County News

Columbia County Economic Development:
Staz Guntek, County Legislative Expert  Reports

Staz Guntek reports to Columbia County, Florida

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Yesterday morning, the vestige of Columbia County's neutered Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the now Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB), met for another monthly meeting, which sometimes the County holds – and sometimes, not.

The EDAB is a board devised as a non-binding advisory board on county-wide economic development issues. Its membership has folks from Lake City, Columbia County, Florida Gateway College, and the business and utility communities.

The EDAB does not accomplish much of anything and has become a coffee klatch for some of the chosen and government officials to get together and chat about economic development issues, grants, and the government-supported PAC – the North Florida Economic Development Partnership (NFEDP).

Before it widened its horizon, the NFEDP's claim to fame was the North Florida Broadband Authority (NFBA) and the Florida Rural Broadband Alliance (FRBA), which collectively blew through $54 mil of federal stimulus money to provide rural broadband to rural underserved areas. Nobody is connected.

Links to the the NFBA Series

The Staz Guntek Legislative Report

One of the high points of yesterday's meeting was Columbia County's legislative expert's rundown of the just-finished Florida legislative session.

Mr. Guntek recapped what he presented to the Columbia County 5 a week ago.

Mr. Guntek told the board, “We had put in for five projects. And we were able to get all five projects on the budget document.”

Mr. Guntek said the County was awarded $5.7 million for the water treatment plant at the North Florida Mega Industrial Park, which after almost two decades, still does not have a tenant.

Mr. Guntek explained the County was “able to get $1.2 million to repave Bascom Norris from Southwest State Road to State Road 47, and $950,000 for a replacement for County fire station 51. Mr. Guntek added the fire station “was the only project that wasn't funded fully in the [state] budget.

Mr. Guntek added that $980,000 was budgeted for the Sheriff's Crime Lab and $475,000 for the Bethlehem Community Center, adding, “I know that's important for those folks that live in that part of the County."

Mr. Guntek expanded on rural county finance: “Just on the act on a macro scale is we have a lot of rural counties. We were very successful in getting some changes in the statutes regarding rural grants… We won't have to have a match, and also, the state will directly pay our invoices when it comes to grants rather than us getting reimbursed.”

Mr. Guntek summarized the legislative session: “It was a good session overall. A lot of wins for a lot of people, and we were able to successfully get some appropriations out of it. The only disclaimer I put on appropriations is that the governor has not signed the budget yet, and he has veto power, so we don't know what projects will be cut and then returned to budget stabilization in December. We'll have to see what he does."


The $5.7 mil drinking water plant is being built within walking distance from the City's water plant, which has a Florida DEP permit to pump up to 18 million gallons a day. The City (Lake City), the Suwannee River Water Management District, and the County could not come to terms on Lake City/Columbia County water use, and now the state is anteing up $5.7 mil. for a duplicate project.

As Mr. Guntek said, "We'll have to see what he [the governor] does."

Comments: to add a comment go here.

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

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.