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County passes on bonds, for now

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Levy County does not have the requisite 100,000 residents to qualify for Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds, but county officials think they could still get the money. The subject of the bonds, funded with federal stimulus bill money, came up during the Board of County Commissioners regular meeting Tuesday.  County Coordinator Freddie Moody said the county does not qualify for the $346,000 in economic development bond money and $519,000 in facility bond money designated for Levy County, but by turning the money back to the state it frees the money from the current restrictions for the governor to use it as the state sees fit. Moody said other counties are allocated funds that they may not qualify for and could turn them back which could make the pot of money a bit larger. "The hospital (proposed for Chiefland) is trying to get these bonds," said Pat O'Neal, director of the Nature Coast Business Development Council and the Enterprise Zone Development Agency. "If we get it back to the governor it can be reallocated." Commission Chair Nancy Bell of Chiefland said the notice that the board is waiving a claim to the bonds should be accompanied by a letter from the board "saying that we have a need for these funds. That we're not keen on waiving that when we have such a need." The motion to send the letter to the state was made by Commissioner Lilly Rooks, who also mentioned that the area is also pressing to get financing for the Levy campus of the College of Central Florida. It was seconded by Commissioner Marsha Drew and passed unanimously.