Originally published October 14, 2008

Leon County Commission sets state, federal priorities

By Julian Pecquet

The Leon County Commission approved its priorities for state and federal funding during a workshop Tuesday after hearing from its lobbying team.

The county’s wish list adds up to $36.85 million, including $11.4 million for the widening of Woodville Highway from two lanes to four between Gaile Avenue and Capital Circle Southeast and $5 million each for a joint-dispatch center housing city and county dispatchers and for a Lake Jackson Ecopassage to enable wild animals to safely cross U.S. 27.

The county also agreed on policy stances, including fighting state limits on local governments’ property taxation rights. But commissioners withdrew a proposed amendment to state law that would have allowed it to increase the local business tax up to 50 percent.

“The combination of the recent economic uncertainty of the national market,” county staff wrote in the workshop presentation, “and a proposed tax on businesses would create severe opposition in the local business community.”

Commissioner Cliff Thaell also asked the county's lobbyists to work with the state to try and get tax breaks for rental properties that provide low-income housing.

And Commissioner Bob Rackleff urged lobbyists and county staff to stay flexible and have projects ready to go, pointing out that presidential candidate Barack Obama has proposed spending billions of dollars on local infrastructure projects if he’s elected.

“Such a program,” Rackleff said, “will reward local governments with projects ready to go.”

State and federal appropriation requests

Joint Dispatch Center: $5 million

Capital Circle Southeast: $6.75 million

Capital Cascades Trail - Segment 3: $2.5 million

Woodville Highway: $11.4 million

Lake Jackson Ecopassage: $5 million

Lake Munson: $4 million

Woodville Sewer: $2 million

Tower Road Park: $200,000