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HIGH SPRINGS – High Springs City Manager Ed Booth and the city commission are forging ahead to resolve issues that have lingered through the past several months, and in some cases, years. Commissioners approved a letter on Nov. 20, which is expected to be sent on or about Nov. 25, requiring property owners who are not paying for solid waste services to do so.

In previous meetings, Booth said the city has apparently known about this for some time, but has not had the manpower to identify those parties and address the issue. This past year property owners not in compliance have been identified and a letter to owners requiring them to abide by Section 62-37(b) of the High Springs Code of Ordinances will be sent to each.

The letter states that even if a property owner elects to dispose of their garbage and trash themselves, they will continue to pay the minimum monthly charge of $19.50. “This is a public health issue,” said Booth. “We have the tools to resolve this problem and to make it less likely people will dump trash on vacant property in our city,” he said in a subsequent interview.

A little more than 250 properties are currently not paying for solid waste removal, although some of them may be receiving the service. Aside from a public health issue, it also is a financial issue as the income from those properties which may already be receiving the service, but not paying for it, amounts to almost $60,000 a year in lost fees.

The letter states, “The monthly charge will be billed to your residence or business account through September 2015. After that time the annual amount, along with any unpaid amounts, will be assessed and paid through your property taxes. The deposit for garbage is fifty dollars ($50.00) and will be refunded to you once your garbage fees have been added to your property tax bill.”

In other action, commissioners set workshop dates in January to tackle some of the items the previous commission had identified and requested workshops be held.

On Jan. 13 the city commission will hold a workshop concerning whether restaurants can serve hard liquor on Sunday. Part of that question also involves whether hard liquor can only be served in the business district or throughout the city.

On Jan. 20 the commission will hold a workshop to discuss the costs and benefits of continuing to provide a local police dispatch system.

In February, a symposium on economic development will be held, although the exact date has not been set as of this printing.

“I want to bring all the stakeholders to the table,” said Booth. Business and industrial park owners will be invited to participate. “We need to create a pamphlet to hand out to businesses considering a move to this area...something showing future development opportunities. In the system we're in now, the county reacts to information provided by the state. We will continue to work through that system, but we need to determine what we can do to bring businesses to our area. What can we offer? Should we offer abatement as an enticement to businesses to come here? These and several more questions that need to be discussed and a plan of action needs to be produced,” he said.

“We need to decide what types of businesses we want to attract to our area and aggressively go after them,” he said.

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