By LEGION TAYLOR
At the Sopchoppy city commission meeting last week, Lara Edwards stepped down as the city’s mayor.
Edwards said at the meeting on Monday, Jan. 8, that she had been mayor since 2015, and that it was time for someone else to fill that role.
Commissionr Glenn Rudd, who served as vice mayor, was quickly nominated for the job as mayor. The other four commissioners voted unanimously to appoint him, and he took over the job right then. Roger McKenzie was then unanimously appointed to be vice mayor.
Edwards will continue to serve on the city commission, as she has since her appointment in 2011, after her husband David Edwards resigned to take up his current position as county administrator.
Lara Edwards recently accepted a position as executive director of the Wakulla Senior Citizens Center.
In another matter, Katherine Van Zant, a representative from Florida Rural Water Association, came to the meeting to give a presentation on Sopchoppy’s Capacity Fees. Capacity Fees are one-time fees that are designed to reimburse costs spent on expanding utilities. This would affect developments that require water hookups, such as new subdivisions, as only new users would need to pay these capacity fees. These fees should also help fund future expansion as the county continues to grow.
The water system must be expanded to prepare for population growth, according to Florida law. Because the water system that is in place is projected to be outgrown in the next five years, expansions will be necessary, and these capacity fees are designed to ease the burden of such improvements on the city’s budget.
If recommendations from Florida Rural Water are taken, then these fees could generate an extra $15 million in revenue, once 100% capacity is reached on the current system. Along with the updated rate fees, capacity fees will potentially be officially presented to the commission at the next regular meeting, and should be ready for approval by March.
The task order from BDI for the Phase 1 water system improvements was approved unanimously.
Some problems have arisen due to the gate that stops access to the boat ramp in Sopchoppy, as it opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. Some of the people who use the boat ramp think it should open at 5 a.m., so they can get out onto the water earlier in the morning. City commissioners felt that this was unreasonable, as these same people who are asking for it to be open earlier aren’t paying to use it. They asked the city clerk about the $30 yearly subscription that’s available, which gives anyone who buys it the code to use the gate whenever they please, and the clerk said that only two people have purchased it. The commissioners did not change the hours, and instead stated that anyone who had problems with the existing hours should pay the $30 fee or come express their concerns to the commission directly.