Columbia County Report: County commission budget talks and COVID-19 closures

Columbia County Report: County commission budget talks and COVID-19 closures
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) -One of the big-budget items on the docket for Columbia County commissioners in their budget discussions is pay and now paychecks are getting a bit of a boost.

“I want to fix the problem areas I keep hearing about,” said Commission Chairman Rocky Ford.

Commissioners were faced with the question of how to distribute pay raises and reach the required minimum wage of $15 an hour for all staff. The question of expanding insurance resources came up as well. A motion brought up by Ford allocates more than $2 million to give all staff a raise of $2 an hour.

RELATED STORY: Columbia County commission lifts state of emergency order

“Staff is telling me we have problems with payroll that we need to address and that’s why I’m putting this money in there to address those problems but I don’t know every employee with the county and I don’t know what every employee in the county deserves,” added Ford. “Staff does know that but I do know that every employee deserves a raise.”

Exactly $2 million of those approved dollars are for staff raises and the remainder is to address what the board called, “problem areas.” The vote was unanimous to approve the funds to be added to the floor budget.

“And if two dollars an hour this year would do that then we could still have money to address those problem areas,” mentioned Ford.

The money budgeted also includes new insurance benefits.

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The Lake City-Columbia County Humane Society is shutting down certain services due to the spread of COVID-19. The shelter is not doing any adoptions or fosters and non-emergency calls and activities are on hold.

RELATED STORY: Lake City Humane Society raises money for rescue dog’s hip surgery

Intake is also going to be reduced but clinic staff is on-site to do in-house animal surgeries and handle only emergency situations. The shelter is scheduled to fully reopen by Aug. 23.

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The American Legion Post 57 Auxiliary is collecting school supplies until August 31 to donate to the “Teacher Shop” with Columbia County Public Schools.

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