April 14 , 2006 edition of:

Community Update
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

This Issues Features:

County Wins Honorable Mention

CHOICES Begins Community Outreach

Brush Fire Takes 225 Acres

Public a Little Safer

E-Civis Featured

Understanding Residential Impact Fees

Bike, Hike and Bus Week

Spring for Tools

Annual Paint Giveaway

Crisis Center Seeks Volunteers

Waste Watcher Tips

$mart Financial $tart

Canning Clinic

Commission Meeting Highlights

Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

 

County Wins Honorable Mention for Innovation in Communications & Technology

The Geographic Information System (GIS) Team of Alachua County’s Growth Management Department recently received an honorable mention for their “Built In-House Project” in the contest for the Innovation in Communications & Technology Award which is conducted by the Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA). The award recognizes Florida cities and counties for demonstrating leadership in the area of communications and technology. The award is designed to help spread awareness of the need for innovation, to spark creativity and to showcase innovative ideas. Honorable mentions are rarely given.

The GIS Team received the honorable mention for the state-of-the-art Geographic Information System they built entirely “in house” in less than five years, with a staff of four, starting from nothing and with zero additional budgets. Growth Management’s GIS system serves multiple County departments, the County’s eight smaller municipalities, the School Board, the University of Florida, and the community at large. Its monthly e-visits exceed 15,000, and all of its components are non-proprietary and can be shared with other local governments.

The system was built by utilizing Free and Open Source Software (FOSS); by pioneering initiatives in inter-governmental cooperation and resource sharing; and by setting up original partnerships with academic institutions and professional associations. This system would have cost taxpayers over $1 million had it been approached with conventional means such as outside consultants, commercial software, etc.
The award will be presented during a luncheon on May 26 in Panama City Beach, FL. Additionally, the project will be recognized in the FCCMA newsletter and will be shared with other public administration groups and publications geared towards public administration.

For more information about the County’s GIS system, visit http://gis.alachua.fl.us or call the department of Growth Management at (352) 374-5249.

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CHOICES Begins Community Outreach

In response to slow enrollments during the first few months of operation, the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners directed CHOICES staff to greatly increase their outreach activity. Starting this week, Community Outreach Partners are going business to business, church to church, and neighborhood to neighborhood educating County residents about the new CHOICES Health Services program.

We’ve learned that it takes personal contact and follow-up for people to enroll in this type of program,” said CHOICES staff member Lorraine Austin. “Our targets are busy people, working hard to make ends meet. They usually have never had a primary care physician, so seeking health care on a preventive basis—rather than when they are very sick—is a new behavior for them.”

CHOICES (Community Health Offering Innovative Care and Educational Services) is a new health services program funded by the citizens of Alachua County through the quarter cent sales tax. CHOICES provides health care visits, prescription assistance, basic dental care, health education and disease management. There is no monthly charge and enrollees have only a $10.00 co-pay for medical and dental visits and a $5.00 co-pay per month for each prescription. Soon, health education programs, supported by CHOICES, will be held throughout the County and will be open to all Alachua County residents.

Are you eligible?

• Age 18 – 64*
• U.S. citizen or permanent resident
• Alachua County resident
• Employed 25 hours per week or more
• Limited household income
• Not eligible for health insurance such as employer-provided insurance, Medicaid, Medicare* or VA benefits

* Senior citizens age 65 and older may be eligible to receive dental and prescription assistance.

Income Eligibility Limits
1 person family - $19,600/yr.
2 person family - $26,400/yr.
3 person family - $33,200/yr.

Open Enrollment

Mondays 7 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Tuesdays 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Wednesdays 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Thursdays 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

All open enrollment sessions are held at the Dept. of Community Support Services/Health Department Building, 218 SE 24th St, Gainesville.

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Brush Fire Takes 225 Acres

On Friday, April 7, Alachua County Lost 225 acres to an aggressive and fast-moving brush fire. Crews from a number of Alachua and Putnam County agencies were dispatched to reports of a large brush fire in the rural area between Orange Heights and Earlton.

On the heels of a 35-acre brush fire that occurred the day before, personnel from Alachua County Fire Rescue, Cross Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Division of Forestry, Melrose Fire Rescue and Waldo Fire Rescue responded quickly to reports of a 50-acre brush fire near CR1469 and NE 77th Lane. Upon arrival, however, crews found not one but two fires – both of which had been purposely set.

Unfortunately, exceedingly dry conditions combined with low humidity and a strong wind to create a single fire which grew to 225 acres before it was controlled. As dry conditions continue in Alachua and surrounding counties, more brush fires are likely to occur in the months ahead, keeping firefighters in North Central Florida on their toes.

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Public a Little Safer

At the April 11th Commission Meeting, Congressman Cliff Stearns presented a check, in the amount of $150,000 to Alachua County and the City of Gainesville for the joint project for public safety communications.

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County’s E-Civis Featured

“Innovative Products: A Shared Vision for Improved Grants Success Within Alachua County” - as appeared in the Innovations Group’s Newsletter

In September 2003, the Alachua County, FL (pop.191,000) Board of Commissioners launched the Grant Opportunity Tools (GOT) program, an initiative designed to provide a variety of tools and resources to those partnering with the County.

The program plays to several themes common to most local governments – increasing downward pressure from the State and Federal level for local governments to shoulder more of the burden of services (often without funding); the idea embodied in the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for life;” and the idea that communities and their government should be partners in building and sustaining that community.

The program has several goals; the most obvious is to bring additional money into the county to address unmet needs. Equally important is the less tangible goal of fostering and encouraging partnerships and of bringing together agencies and organizations to cooperate in community-wide efforts.

GOT is an effort to expand the idea of the community and government as a partnership. Success is measured as much by the cooperative partnerships and communications between partners as the amount of money brought into the County.

Grants Locator, the Web-based, searchable system of government and foundation grants specifically designed for local government, provided by eCivis, is the central element of the Grant Opportunity Tools (GOT) program. The goal of the program is to provide tools to assist public and private agencies in the County to find, apply for, and receive grants that benefit the residents of Alachua County.

“Our return on investment since inception on current, using Grants Locator has been 22,” and John Johnson, Grants/Contracts Coordinator in the Office of Management and Budget. “This is an impressive number, when you look at the fact that it does not include repeating grants.”
In addition to providing access to Grants Locator, Alachua County developed a web site and listserv to facilitate conversation and relationships between participants of the program. The GOT Web site lists important news and information and provides letter-of-support templates that CBOs (Community Based Organizations) and municipalities can utilize in their grant applications. This ensures that all applications contain the quality information they need to be successful.

“The health of the entire community has improved as a result of increased grant awards,” said Johnson. “Thanks to the support of the County, CBOs and municipalities have been able to provide valuable projects and services to the residents of Alachua County.”

According to Johnson, Alachua County removed potential barriers by requiring all participants in the program to track and report on their usage and participation in the program. While each municipality or CBO is required to research and apply for their own grants, the County’s Grants Office can still oversee who is participating in the program. For those participators who do not have high usage, the County can request additional Client Services support from eCivis.

“Alachua County officials understand the importance of grants,” said Omie Ismail, CEO of eCivis. “They understand that if you provide all your cities, departments and nonprofits with Grants Locator, they can find the funding and go after it themselves. It puts the success in each entity’s hands. Obviously, it pays off.”

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Understanding Residential Impact Fees

What are impact fees?
Impact Fees are charges imposed upon new development as a condition of development approval to pay for a proportionate share of the cost of improvements to the County’s infrastructure necessary to serve new growth and development.

What types of impact fees did the Board of County Commissioners adopt?
The County Commission adopted three types; transportation, fire service, and parks.

How can I be assured that the impact fees I pay are being used for the expansion of capital facilities?
The impact fees are deposited into separate special revenue funds to allow the tracking of associated revenue and expenditures. The impact fee funds are legally required to be audited on an annual basis by an independent auditor.

If the impact fees are not spent in a reasonable period of time will I receive a refund?
The impact fee ordinances require the impact fee revenue to be spent in the order that it is collected. If the impact fees are not spent or obligated within six (6) years of collection then they must be refunded to the entity that paid the fees.

How will the money from impact fees be used?
Impact fees can only be used for the purpose for which they were collected. For example, Fire Service impact fees can only be spent on capital improvements that expand the capacity of the County’s Fire Services capabilities. Likewise, Transportation and Park impact fees can only be used to expand the capacities of the transportation system and park system, respectively. Impact fee revenue cannot be used for operating and maintenance expenses. Transportation impact fees can only be spent within the district they were collected in.

Who is required to pay the impact fees?
All new developments in the unincorporated area of the County where a building permit is applied for are required to pay.

Is the impact fee a one-time payment or is it recurring?
Impact fees are one-time payments required of new development in the unincorporated area of the County.

When do I incur the obligation to pay an impact fee and when do I have to pay it?
The obligation to pay an impact fee is incurred when a building permit is applied for. The impact fee is paid prior to issuance of the certificate of occupancy.

What are the adopted impact fee rates and are they same for all types of residential development?
All residential development, regardless of the development is a single-family home, mobile home, or apartment, pays the same impact fee rate per square foot. Below are the per square foot rates for each impact fee:
Parks - $0.126/Sq. ft.
Fire - $0.076/Sq. ft.
Transportation - $1.052/Sq. ft.

Are impact fees calculated on the number of square feet under roof or heated and air conditioned?
Impact fees for residential structures are calculated on the area of the building or structure provided or designed to be provided with heating or air.

Is there a cap on the amount of impact fees that are paid on residential properties?
Yes, the impact ordinances establish caps at 2,600 square feet for purposes of calculating residential impact fees. In other words, any new residential building larger than 2,600 square feet will pay no more than the fee associated with a 2,600 square foot residential building. The 2,600 square foot cap also applies to home additions and replacement of existing structures.

If I am remodeling my home do I have to pay an impact fee?
If a home is remodeled or rebuilt and the size of the building is not increased, a payment of impact fees is not required.

Is there an impact fee for an accessory structure such as a garage?
No, if the structure is not designed as a dwelling unit, then an impact fee is not required.

I want to construct an addition to my home; do I have to pay an impact fee?
If the heated and air conditioned space of a home is increased, then an impact fee payment is required, up to the 2,600 square foot cap. For example, if a 600 square foot addition is added to a 2,300 square foot house (2,900 sq ft), then impact fees are only due for 300 square feet, not 600 square feet, due to the 2,600 square foot cap.

How are impact fees determined for secondary dwelling units?
A secondary dwelling unit, whether it is a permanent structure or mobile home, is evaluated as a separate residential structure from the primary dwelling.

Are impact fees due if I am replacing an existing mobile home with a permanent home?
If a legally existing mobile home or a permanent home is replaced with a larger home, then impact fees are only due for the net increase in square footage. For example, if a 1,000 square foot mobile home is replaced with an 1,800 square foot permanent home, then impact fees are only due for the net increase of 800 square feet.

If I currently have a mobile home on my property do I have to pay an impact fee if I replace it?
No, the installation of a replacement mobile home on a lot or site where a mobile home existed legally prior to the effective date of this ordinance is exempt from payment of impact fees. This exemption applies even if the new, replacement mobile home is larger than the original one.

How are impact fees determined for single family attached and multi-family developments such as apartments, town homes, and condominiums?
The impact fees are determined on a per unit basis. Each unit is evaluated on the square footage provided with heat and air.

Are there any programs available to help with paying impact fees?
Yes, the Impact Fee Assistance Program provides funding for the cost of impact fees for income-eligible homebuyers. Funding will be provided as a 0% interest, soft second mortgage for a five year term. You will have to repay a portion of the loan only if you sell or rent the home or refinance within the first five years of owning the home. Only income eligible homebuyers are eligible to participate in this program. and applications are available by calling (352) 374-5249.

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13th Annual Bike, Hike, & Bus Week

Frustrated with traffic congestion? Tired of rising gas costs? No time to exercise? Take the Bike, Hike, and Bus Week Challenge!
For the week of April 16-23, the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Board (BPAB), City of Gainesville Bicycle Program, Regional Transit System (RTS), and Gainesville Clean Water Partnership (GCWP) challenge you to leave your car at home and use others form of transportation, such as cycling, walking, and bus transit.

For 13 years, Gainesville has annually recognized the importance and benefits of using other forms of transportation through a week of events called Bike, Hike, and Bus Week (BHBW). Biking, walking, and using mass transit can lead to less traffic congestion, a cleaner environment, health and physical benefits, and costs savings on vehicle expenses.

To emphasize the environmental benefits of cycling, walking, and mass transit, BHBW 2006 has joined with a new partner, the Gainesville Clean Water Partnership (GCWP). GCWP has also organized a week of events, “Creeks Week”, which highlights the importance of our local waterways. BHBW and GCWP have partnered on the following events: the Blues Creek Nature Walk on Sunday, April 16; Creeks Week Festival/ Great American Cleanup and Kids Bike Parade on Saturday, April 22 at Westside Park.

Join us this week and take the BHBW challenge! For more information, call (352) 334-5074.

2006 Events

Sunday, April 16
Blues Creek Nature Walk (8 a.m.)

Monday, April 17
RTS Fare Free Monday (All day)

Tuesday, April 18
UF Transportation Fair (11 a.m. - 2 p.m.)

Wednesday, April 19
SFCC Transportation Fair (11 a.m. - 2 p.m.)

Thursday, April 20
City Commuter Challenge (11 a.m.)

Saturday, April 22
Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail Family Bike Ride (9 a.m.)
Creeks Week Festival (8 a.m. - 2 p.m. at Westside Park)
Kids Bike Parade (11 a.m. at Westside Park)

Sunday, April 23
San Felasco Hammock Mountain Bike Trail Ride (9 a.m.)

 

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‘Spring For Supplies’ Drive

In partnership with the University of Florida Department of Housing and Residence Education, Tools for Schools, a free, reusable resource center for Alachua County teachers, is holding its first annual “Spring for Supplies” drive from April 17 – May 8, 2006. The program is sponsored by Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives and Alachua County School Board.

Rather than tossing out still usable school supplies, UF students are encouraged to donate leftover school supplies to one of the many drop-off locations on- and off-campus. Items accepted include new and used paper, folders, binders, pens, pencils, markers, glue, note cards, rulers, scissors, book bags and more.

The drop-off locations, dates and times are as follows:

On UF Campus
Reitz Union Colonnade, Museum Road
April 24-25, 2006
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Beaty, Broward, Jennings, Murphee and Yulee lobbies
April 26 – May 6, 2006

Off UF Campus
The Estates (rental office) 3527 SW 20th Ave., Gainesville
Campus Club (rental office) 4000 SW 37th Blvd., Gainesville
University Glades (rental office) 3415 SW 39th Blvd., Gainesville

April 17 – May 8, 2006
During regular office hours

Donations are also accepted year-round at the Tools for Schools Store, 1147 SE 7th Ave., near Waldo Road on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

For more information, please visit www.toolsforschools.alachua.fl.us or call Melissa Palmer of Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives at (352) 374-5213.

 

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Annual Paint Giveaway

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department will be holding the 12th Annual Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway Event on Saturday, April 29, 2006. The event will distribute 2,200 gallons of recycled latex paint to community organizations, civic groups and people with special needs, free of charge. The paint can then be used to paint area homes and businesses that cannot afford the cost of new paint.

The Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway event will take place beginning at 8 a.m. at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center , located at the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station, 5125 NE 63rd Ave., 2 miles north of 39th Avenue, off Waldo Road. The recycled paint will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis and will be available in 5 gallon pails with five colors to choose from: Off White, Beige, Gray, Blue and Terra Cotta. There is a 10 gallon limit per resident.

“A total of 38,000 gallons of recycled paint has been provided to Alachua County residents since the inception of the program in 1994” said Kurt Seaburg, Hazardous Waste Coordinator for the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. Alachua County has been successful in making available a limited supply of this recycled paint for use within the community every year since the cost to recycle is only slightly more than the cost to dispose of the unwanted paint that is dropped off by residents at the Hazardous Waste Center every year. “The demand for the paint has always exceeded the supply, so arrive early,” Seaburg suggested.

The latex paint is collected throughout the year by the Hazardous Waste Program and shipped to a paint manufacturer where it is blended and repackaged into a 75% post consumer paint and is suitable for either interior or exterior usage.

For those residents that miss this event, non-recycled free paint of varying quality and amounts dropped of by residents who no longer need it is available at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center’s Recycle/Reuse Area. Residents can pick up some of this paint and other household products during normal business hours: Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

Further information about the Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway Event can be obtained by calling the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center at (352) 334-0440.

 

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Crisis Center Seeking Volunteers

The Alachua County Crisis Center is seeking volunteers to become Crisis Line Counselors. Sixty hours of in-depth training are provided. This is an opportunity to impact the lives of fellow community members and to gain life-enhancing communication skills. The next training class begins Saturday, May 20, 2006. Please contact Dana Myers at 352/264-6779 or visit http://crisiscenter.alachua.fl.us for more information.

 

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Waste Watchers Tips

• Americans represent only 5% of the world’s population, but generate 30% of the world’s garbage.

• It takes five two-liter plastic bottles to make one square foot of carpet.

• Every year, Americans throw away enough office and writing paper to build a wall 12-feet high, stretching from Los Angeles to New York City.

• If everyone in the United States recycled one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about 25 million trees every year.

• Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run the television for three hours.

• A computer that runs all day and night uses $65 to $100 of electricity each year.

• Recycling one glass container saves enough energy to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

• Pull the plug on chargers, televisions, and other electronics when you’re not using them and you can cut your home’s energy emissions up to 10 percent.

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$mart Financial $tart

The Alachua County Extension Office invites young married couples to attend a free series of classes entitled “$mart Financial $tart.” Classes will be held at the Alachua County Extension Office, 2800 NE 39th Ave. The sessions will be held in both the evenings and the afternoons on the following dates:
• Evenings from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: April 10, April 17, May 8 and May 22
• Afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.: April 11, April 25, May 11 and May 25

This series of classes is new and is partially grant funded. Those completing the series will receive an array of money management tools and materials.

$mart Financial $tart is designed to assist couples to get off on the right foot financially. It is an extension of the pre-marital class, “Before You Tie the Knot.” All couples are invited to attend. The series includes topics such as designing a spending plan, using credit wisely, understanding insurance, saving for a home, planning for retirement and basic estate planning.

Please pre-register by calling (352) 337-6209 (voice mail) and leaving your name and number. For questions please call (352) 955-2402.

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Canning Clinic Offered by Extension Office

It’s time again for the annual Alachua County Extension Service Canning Clinic. For a $3.00 material fee citizens are invited to learn the approved methods of canning fruits and vegetables, as well as making jams, jellies and pickles. The class will be held on Wednesday, April 12 from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. at the Extension Office, 2800 NE 39th Ave.

The Alachua County Extension Service has been providing this program for the past two years. If you are an experienced canner, then come refresh your skills and learn the latest research on preserving foods.

The $3.00 fee for materials will be collected at the clinic.

Please pre-register by calling (352) 337-6209 and leaving your name and number. For questions please call (352) 955-2402.

 

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Commission Meeting Highlights
04-14-06

Proclamations, Presentations and Recognitions

• Proclamation declaring the week of April 23-29, 2006 as “Administrative Professionals Week” and April 26, 2006 as “Administrative Professionals Day” in Alachua County.
• Proclamation declaring the month of April as “April 2006 Library Appreciation Month” in Alachua County.
• Proclamation declaring the week of “April 16-23, 2006 as “Bike, Hike & Bus Week” in Alachua County.
• Proclamation declaring the week of April 16-22, 2006 as “Creeks Week” in Alachua County.
• Recognition of the recipients of the Keep Alachua County Beautiful “We Noticed” awards.
• Presentation regarding Keep Alachua County Beautiful as the recipient of the the 2005 Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Innovation.
• Proclamation declaring the week of April 23-29, 2006 as “Crime Victims Rights Week 2006” in Alachua County.
• Proclamation declaring the month of April as “April 2006 as Child Abuse Prevention Month” in Alachua County.
• Proclamation declaring the month of April 2006 as “Fair Housing Month” in Alachua County.
• Proclamation declaring Spring 2006 as the “University of Florida’s Men’s Basketball Championship Season” in Alachua County.

Advisory Boards

• The Board heard a Quarterly Presentation of the Recreation and Open Space Advisory Committee.

Constitutional Officers/Other Governmental Offices

• The Board accepted the presentation of check by Congressman Stearns for funding obtained for the City/County joint project for Public Safety Communications.
• The Board heard a presentation concerning the space of the Supervisor of Elections. The Board approved a 15 month lease contract to expand the Supervisor of Elections Operations into the north end of the Star Garage. The Board deferred the decision on the long-term space needs solution.

Support Services Group

Community Planning Group

Community Services Group

 

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Get Involved - Alachua County Advisory Boards

The Alachua County Commission is committed to citizen involvement on its 33 advisory boards
and is soliciting applications for the following vacancies:

Applications are available in the County Manager's Office on the second floor of the County Administration Building, 12 SE First St., Gainesville, or on the Web at: http://boards.alachua.fl.us/app/application.aspx

 

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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

Community Update is produced by the County Manager's Communications Office.