Suwannee County seal

LIVE OAK — After County Administrator Randy Harris asked for one final change, the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners approved the county’s final budget.

The proposed final budget was $94.75 million and Harris asked for the board to consider a different option for cleaning roadways around the county at a discounted cost.

The board unanimously approved the budget with that change and unanimously approved the proposed millage rate of 9 mills, the same rate it has been the past six years. The millage rate was a 1.88 percent increase from the rollback rate of 8.8340 mills, the rate that will provide the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year’s rate.

Harris had previously discussed with the board during the budget workshops about the need for a crew to work on the edge of the paved roads and taking the dirt back to the road department for later use.

He said after running the numbers that crew would cost $200,000 for employees and equipment.

So Harris instead proposed using three vacancies in the road department to provide the crew and moving $62,000 from contingency to the road department for leasing two dump trucks and a loader in order to accomplish the work. He said they would use a grader that they already have.

“This is a county-wide need that we have,” he said. “I think every commissioner on this board has called me at some time to go clean up the edges of roads.”

Harris said that work normally is when dirt from unpaved roads washes across paved roads, but the county has been doing temporary fixes to the problem due to lack of manpower and equipment.

“We don’t have a crew that we can spare from the people that we currently have to take of that job,” he said.

Len Stapleton, the District 4 commissioner, said there is definitely a need to clean up the sides of the road and that it is a safety hazard as is.

He urged the board to approve the proposal, adding the county could also utilize that equipment for other needs if situations arise.

Stapleton and Ricky Gamble, the chairman of the board and the commissioner from District 3, said that work includes scraping the sides of the paved roads with a grader to allow the water to run off the road.

Gamble said he has heard complaints in the past from the temporary fixes the county has used to fix the issue.

“We don’t have anyone that we can keep dedicated to doing this job,” Harris said. “It’s difficult. That means we pull someone off of something else … and that puts them behind what they’re typically doing.”

Harris added a side benefit of the work will be to replenish the dirt supply the county has to use for various projects around the county.

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