Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

Lake City Utility Advisory Committee Tonight: Impact Fees, County Participation Nixed 

LAKE CITY, FL – Tonight's Lake City Utility Advisory Committee has on its docket City Utility Impact Fees and the reconfiguration of the Utility Committee. The City Council dropped the impact fee issue in the Committee's lap at the last City Council meeting. The proposed reconfiguration of the Utility Committee does not have a seat for the County.

Impact Fees

On November 13, 2014, in his Report to Council, City Manager Johnson recommended reinstating the City water and sewer impact fees. His recommendation:

"Allow time period for “suspended” water and sewer impact fees to expire as scheduled on December 31, 2014 - Water and Sewer Impact Fees to again be required effective January 1, 2015 pursuant to previously established criteria and rates."

During the subsequent November 17 Council meeting, City Manager Johnson apparently had a change of heart. He told the Council, "I'm not opposed to letting impact fees continue." (It appeared the City Manager was talking about keeping the fees suspended). He added that it was never a good time to charge impact fees.

Tonight, the City Utility Advisory Committee may come up with a recommendation.

Utility Committee Reorganization: stacked with Council members

The City's Utility Director, Steve Roberts, is recommending that the Utility Committee membership be reduced from 11 members to 7 members.

The new membership will include three City Council members along with the City Manager, the Assistant City Manager, the Utilities Director and his assistant.

Proposed to be eliminated are various department directors of the utilities, as well as the Director of Public Works and Board member Walt Graham.

In part, Director Roberts  explained his rational for the change:

In a time of ongoing change, the presence of new and fewer members would bring a new outlook and encourage creativity and innovation in board decisions.

Mr. Roberts did not explain how removing the diverse membership of the committee and replacing it with 3 of the 5 City Council Members, along with the top management of the City and himself and his assistant would "encourage creativity and innovation in board decisions."

Columbia County: left out

On January 27, 2010, the Chairman of the County's Utility Committee and the Chairman of the County 5, Jody DuPree, over-ruled The 5's appointment of 2 City voting members on the County's Utility Committee and told the City they would not be invited to County Utility meetings, but they could attend if they felt like it, as they were public meetings.

The City was not advised of a County Utility meeting which occurred on January 26.

Mr. DuPree wrote: I instructed county staff that there was no need to invite city staff to any other meetings unless there was a need.


The reconfiguration of the City Utility Advisory Committee with 3 Council members and the City upper Management team excludes the County. The selection speaks for itself.

Lately, the City and the County have been claiming a new level of cooperation – particularly in the realm of economic development.

Ronald Williams, County 5 Chairman and the Chair of the County's Economic Development Advisory Board, for years has opined that utilities are the key to the future economic development of Columbia County.

It is business as usual in infamous Columbia County/Lake City.

Lake City's Utility Director, Steve Roberts, did not return a phone call.

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