It’s ridiculous but still somewhat predictable, that with each new county commission board they take three steps backwards before they move forward in the wrong direction. I find it completely unprofessional and ineffective that no one seems to have the foresight to research important agenda items before they are voted on at BOCC meetings. None of our elected officials ever bothered to attend any BOCC meetings until they decided to run for country commissioner. And of course, once elected, well, they know best – except, sometimes they know diddly-squat. I find it amazing that some of these commissioners have no clue about the history and the work that previous commissioners and other constitutional officer previously engaged in, studied or discussed, that are the same or similar, as those being reviewed and re-considered today.
Take for instance, the need for an emergency evacuation route at the Lecanto school complex. On Tuesday, February 14th, the school board asked our commissioners to release existing impact fee revenue for a much needed emergency evacuation route at the Lecanto school complex. The only decision that the BOCC needed to focus on was whether, or not, the school impact fees are being appropriated correctly – a school project on school property. Nothing else.
I was amazed when commissioners derailed the issue by requesting a new traffic analysis at the complex. The county needs to remember that they have contributed in creating more traffic in this area with the Citrus County Park. The traffic situation in this area is not just a School Board problem. The Chronicle recently reported that Commissioner Kinnard stated that the BOCC needed “to ensure that it serves more than just one isolated purpose.” Is Kinnard looking for better access to the recently approved Drone field at the Citrus County Park located on W. Education Path? And then County Administrator Randy Oliver suggested the County could “assist the school district in obtaining County property for a new entrance/exit” route and Commissioner Carnahan suggested contacting whomever for another traffic study. Amazing!
Clearly, the BOCC and the School Board were not on the same page. This is embarrassing. The School Board was not asking for impact fee funding to construct another entrance/exit to the school complex. The School Board asked the BOCC to release $670,000 of their existing school impact fees to cover the cost of an emergency evacuation route at the Lecanto school complex. The School Board does not need BOCC approval to construct an emergency exit route because they have home rule and, the BOCC cannot legally withhold school impact fees when the project is impact fee fundable. Besides, it’s my understanding, that you cannot have a multi-purpose road on school property that could be used for other endeavors unrelated to school functions. School funding and capital improvement funding are very specific on how they can be appropriated.
There have been several joint studies conducted between the School Board and the BOCC to determine if another entrance/exit is viable. A 2006 “Traffic and Site Circulation Analysis” was done at the complex to better improve access to the facility. Most of the solutions were implemented and a few discarded because they could negatively impact, rather than improve, access to some of the schools located within the complex. There was also research conducted to determine the construction cost for another entrance/exit at the complex years ago – and the cost was $7 million++ because the BOCC approved gas lines that would have to be re-routed since they block access into the complex.
It’s been a while since the BOCC has switched over to becoming heavy handed with other state constitutional offices. They want to control everything and everyone. There seems to be a pattern emerging that will not foster good working relationships between county officials and state constitutional officers and, it’s all about control. My take on this is that it is best to leave decision making policies up to the experts – those that know what is needed and how it should be implemented within their respective areas of expertise. I don’t believe, and neither should anyone else, that the BOCC is all knowing and, that they will always make the right decisions. They would be more efficient if they recognized their own shortcomings.
It would be a positive improvement if our commissioners also recognized that they have a preponderance of branching out beyond what is necessary at times, as evidenced by the emergency evacuation route vs. another entrance/exit road. This creates unnecessary confusion and delays. It is also besmirching important working relationships, while creating a potentially dangerous situation for students and faculty. The BOCC should focus more on working with the School Board to resolve this issue instead of creating impediments.
Author - Edna Mattos
Edna is from New York City and moved to Citrus County in 2003. She has worked for Fortune 500 companies and was the Founder of the Citrus County Tea Party