Chris Doolin, Gadsden County’s Legislative Consultant (lobbyist), gave the county commission an overview of the 2013 legislative session.
Doolin explained to the commissioners that one of the top priorities this past session was to protect revenue sharing programs for the county.
He added that support for fiscally constrained counties like Gadsden was another priority.
This past year, he stated, counties were able to hold onto their current funding levels and he anticipated a similar trend during next year’s session.
Doolin said Gadsden County was represented by two legislators, Senator Bill Montford and Representative Alan Williams, who had worked hard for the county.
Doolin said another issue related to Gadsden County is Florida State Hospital (FSH), which has been a target over the last several years.
According to Doolin, this is an ongoing fight, but FSH should be secure over the next couple of years.
A future problem, he explained, however, deals with how the state handles Medicaid payments from each county.
Currently the county’s share is about $600,000 a year but could rise to over $1 million over the next seven years.
That will continue to come before the legislature and be opposed by small counties, Doolin said.
There were a number of line item vetoes for Gadsden County by Governor Rick Scott in last year’s budget that included the Gadsden County sheriff’s community recreation center, $100,000; Gretna Water project, $150,000; and Mobile Health Unit, $200,000.
On the positive side, Doolin said there had been an increase in funding for small county outreach programs, small county wastewater treatment grants and emergency management grants, just to name some examples.
On the economic front, Doolin stated that the Enterprise Zones have been expanded (the areas in a community that are designated for additional incentives such as refunds on sales tax and employment subsidies) from 20-square miles 25-square miles.