City to Plug up School Drains
The Alachua County school system has resolved its stormwater fee dispute, but another is caught in a deluge of controversy.
The City of Ocala and the Marion County School District are at odds over fire fees, police fees, and stormwater fees.
But its the last one that is currently in court. And city leaders think they have found a different kind of leverage to make school leaders see things their way.
"They've set the rules, they've got the decisions and now we're playing their game and they don't like it, and so it's too bad," City Council Member, Daniel Owen told TV20.
Tuesday night, the City Council unanimously voted to plug drains on school grounds if the district doesn't pay.
"They've got a way to manage their stormwater and that's to pay for it like everybody else," Owen said.
The school district stopped paying for stormwater utilities last November. The unpaid bill is at almost $50,000-- a bill they say they shouldn't have to pay.
The dispute is brewing up a storm.
"The school board still feels it's does not have to pay those stormwater fees as it's been up held in three of the five Appellate Courts in the State of Florida," Marion County School District Spokesperson, Kevin Christian told TV20.
But Owen says that if a student takes something that isn't there's it's called stealing, and if a school board does the same it's called sovereign immunity.
"My son would be in trouble as a student of the Marion County Public School system for doing what the school board is doing," Owen stated.
Both parties recently met in court. A judge ruled in favor of the school district-- something the city is appealing.
But City Officials say there's nothing in the ruling that stops them from plugging the drains.
In January, the Alachua County School Board and the Gainesville City Commission resolved a long- running dispute over paying stormwater fees.
The schools leased land to the city to be used a storm drains.
Owen tells TV20 that stormwater drains that also serve homes located near schools will remain open.
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