Levy gets to rating in audit

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Deborah Goad, Citizen Correspondent

Levy County received a top rating for its recent fiscal audit report at the July 18 meeting of the Levy Board of County Commissioners.

Frank Mason, a CPA with the auditing firm Carr Riggs & Ingram, presented the audit report to the commission, congratulating the County for receiving the highest level "Unmodified Opinion."

The Board also heard from David Pieklik, director of Nature Coast Business Development, reported he was working with a gentleman in Williston on a business plan to bring about an enterprise that uses L.E.D. lights in a plant growing operation, which could employ approximately 40 people. When pressed what the plant might be, Pieklik declined to name it, explaining he wanted to give the owner time to formulate his business plan. He did state the plant was not marijuana.

Dean presented a request from Minnie Crevasse, president of the Cedar Key Historical Society, for a letter of support to accompany their application for a Humanities Grant. After discussion, commissioners approved the request on a motion from Rooks and seconded by Commissioner Rock Meeks.

Budget dates set

The Commission set dates for the tentative millage and proposed budget, final millage and budget adoption.

The tentative millage adoption date is Aug. 3 at 3 p.m.

The tentative millage and proposed budget meeting is set for Sept. 5 at 5:01 p.m. The final assessment meeting is Sept. 12 at 6 p.m., and the final millage and budget adoption is Sept. 19 at 5:01 p.m.

Building fees change

Commissioners approved a resolution from Development Director Bill Hammond to amend the schedule of permit fees and service charges for permits, reviews, and services provided by the Levy County Development Department and the Levy County Road Department. The resolution also repealed conflicting fee schedules.

Hammond stated the current fee for a Single-Family Residential is $25, last year bringing in $9,500. With the increase to $100, the department will be looking at an increase of $38,000 in revenue.

Additions to Single-Family Residence increase from $25 to $100, and permits for Residential Accessory Building is increased from $15 to $25.

Levy County is currently the lowest in fees charged compared to surrounding counties. The increase will be put Levy near the middle and generate a $32,000 increase in revenue, helping the Department become a pay as you go service, as the people using the zoning service would be paying for it.

Meeks said increasing the fee would be a good thing because presently, money is taken from the general fund causing people who have never been to the building department or used the building the department to pay for it.

Joyner said the building department is currently losing money. After a question from the audience, Joyner made a motion to approve the resolution, seconded Brooks. The motion was passed unanimously.

Public Safety

Department of Public Safety director Mitch Harrell requested Board approval and the chairman’s signature to execute the second two-year option to renew the agreement between Levy County and the University of Florida Board of Trustees for medical director services.

Harrell said he was “very happy with their services.”

A motion was made by Rooks and seconded by Joyner. The motion was approved.

Harrell presented third quarter write-offs to the board for approval. He cannot go to collections until the board approves the write-offs. The billing company has tried to collect on the debts, most of which are more than six months old.

After some discussion on the law and collection procedure, a motion passed unanimously. A question was asked, “Just how much debt was it this time?”

John Meeks replied, $239,413.19, saying it was down.

Harrell replied it was down but pretty much in line with what the write-offs are every year.

Joyner said it was a whole lot better than it was before the collection agencies got involved.

Meeks pointed out that unfortunately we live in a society where some people give false billing information, but if someone is lying there bleeding, no one is going to ask to see their ID to confirm they are who they say they are.

Harrell said he would be very concerned if his employees' first concern was collecting billing information. He added that their first concern should always be the care of the patient. Under state statute, the paramedics are the primary provider, and have no choice but to treat the patient. The state does give them the ability to bill and try to collect on the services. He said it is their fiduciary duty to gather all the information they can. They are looking at some ways to try to improve that number. Fortunately, they are doing very well in that regard, with a 70 percent collection rate.

Rooks told Harrell he was doing an excellent job and Meeks added he heard good things in the community.

Commissioners’ reports

Joyner reported he went to a meeting in Gulf Hammock last week and he wanted to commend Rooks who was also there. When either one got up to speak the other commissioners in attendance left the room, following the Sunshine Law. He said he felt it worked out very well. The residents had concerns the commission will address. He thanked "Ms. Lilly (Rooks) for the professionalism and courtesy she shows.”

Commissioner Matt Brooks reported he would be traveling to Macclenny July 20 for a meeting for the Economic Development Board.

A meeting in Washington, D.C. was scheduled at the last minute, Meeks said he relayed his concerns to Ralph Thomas, president of the Small Counties Coalition, who will attend. Meeks said he sent him an email about the need for infrastructure in rural counties.

“The primary need being internet accessibility, more important than roads, water, electricity or anything. Without internet, children cannot learn, businesses cannot prosper,” Meeks said.

The board meets Aug. 8 and Aug 15 at 9 a.m. at the Levy County Courthouse in Bronson.