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BOCC sets legislative wish list

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By Alice Du Pont

When Gadsden County commissioners met in late December, they worked to prioritize the county’s needs, and an extension of the current license for the Gadsden Community Hospital was at the top of the list.

Commissioners are asking Gov. Charlie Crist and the state legislature to take the necessary steps to get the extension to allow the county to successfully meet all of the requirements necessary to reopen and maintain the hospital.

Construction company officials said they could meet the deadline of June 21, but the licensing bureau of the Florida Agency on Healthcare Administration expressed concerns revolving around the schedule of inspectors. The inspections are critical to meeting the deadlines. The request is for a 24-month extension.

The county will also ask the legislature to provide funding that will offset the financial shortfalls expected with the January 2008 passage of Amendment 1. The Florida Department of Revenue has estimated that the revenue reduction to Gadsden County is approximately $1,151,104 in accordance to the formula adopted by state statutes. The total estimate statewide is approximately $23.2 million and $10 million was appropriated. Gadsden County will receive approximately $496,000 in offset funding.

In correspondence to the Legislative Delegation, which consists of Sen. Al Lawson and representatives Marti Coley, Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda and Alan Williams, commissioners asked the state to initiate efforts to protect and expand the county's economic base. Special assistance, they said, is needed to promote Gadsden County products, protect the existing employment base from job losses and provide incentives to stabilize existing businesses experiencing economic hardship.

Other items on the county's wish list include:

• Support for infrastructure funding through an economic stimulus package

• Support for funding needs to address road and bridge work including funding for critical transportation needs such as a Crawfish Island evacuation route and moving forward with the Quincy bypass

• Support to fund a study for water/sewer needs countywide

• State revenue grant support

• Protect key grant funding for vital community service, continue to support the county with its special project status and support for state road programs.