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ACEL’s Public Policy positions on County Referenda for the 2018 Fall Elections

For the upcoming County Referenda, ACEL’s Board has voted on the following recommendations made by our Public Policy Committee as being in the best interest of our membership of young professionals in Alachua County.

Children’s Trust of Alachua County Authority to Levy One-Half Mill Ad Valorem Taxes

In order to provide developmental, preventive, and supportive services for children, such as early learning supports and out of school enrichment programming, should an independent special district titled “The Children’s Trust of Alachua County” be created and be authorized to levy an annual ad valorem tax not to exceed one-half (½) mill for 12 years?

ACEL has endorsed the Children’s Trust- We recommend a YES vote

The Children’s Trust of Alachua County will cost median income families approximately $3 a month and provide $84 million in funding for children’s services over 12 years. The Children’s trust will provide early childhood and intervention services, tutoring and literacy services, quality afterschool programs, among many other services. We recommend a YES vote to guarantee critical services for our children for a stronger community.

Half-Cent Sales Surtax to Improve School Facilities

Shall the School Board of Alachua County levy a half-cent sales surtax to finance safety and security improvements; repair, renovation and remodeling of Board-owned schools, including modernization of classrooms, science labs and other spaces; technology; elimination of portable classrooms; new construction; land acquisition and improvement; and other school facilities projects; with oversight by an independent citizens’ committee? The tax would begin January 1, 2019, and last twelve years.

ACEL has endorsed the Half-Cent Tax- we recommend a vote FOR the half-cent tax

ACEL has joined the many organizations supporting the Half-Cent tax including the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters. This half-cent tax will bring Alachua County only to the average Florida tax, just under 7%. It will create the necessary funding to improve our school facilities and will create jobs for the needed infrastructure improvements. We recommend a vote FOR the half-cent tax to make Alachua County a better place for our children and families.

Voters in the City of Gainesville may also vote on the following issues:

Shall the Charter of the City of Gainesville be amended to create the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority as the governing board of Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), whose responsibilities shall include, but not be limited to, examining and establishing utility rates for all customers, and whose members shall be GRU customers, shall be diverse and representative of the community, and shall be nominated by citizens and appointed by the Gainesville City Commission?

ACEL is not endorsing nor opposing the GRU Authority.

However, we feel it is important to inform our members and the community about this referendum. Essentially, what this referendum does is remove public control of GRU and give that control to a board of political appointees who are unaccountable to Gainesville citizens. Currently, Gainesville citizens elect the representatives who oversee GRU. Proponents of the GRU Authority have marketed this referendum as a means to “lower utility bills”, but nothing in the fourteen pages of this bill address the issue of cost. It is an unknown. It’s up to voters to decide if they are willing to give up local citizen oversight and give it to a board of appointed Tallahassee political appointees.

Supported by: Alachua County Republic Party, Senator Keith Perry, Representative Chuck Clemons, Governor Rick Scott, The Business Community Coalition

Opposed by: Alachua County Democratic Party, The Gainesville Sun, Alachua County NAACP, African American Accountability Alliance, League of Women Voters, International Association of Firefighters, Representative Clovis Watson, Florida AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, the Gainesville City Commission, Indivisible, Stonewall Democrats of Alachua County, Connected Gainesville, Alachua Labor Coalition, Florida Municipal Electric Association

City of Gainesville Charter Amendment City Commission Elections and Terms of Office

Shall the City Charter be amended to require elections for Mayor and Commissioners every other year in even-numbered years coinciding with statewide elections, rather than every year, beginning with the regular election in 2022; and to change the terms of office of the Mayor and City Commissioners from the current 3-year terms commencing in May to 4-year terms commencing in January 2023; and to provide transitional terms of office; as proposed by ordinance no. 160876?

ACEL has endorsed this amendment- we recommend a YES vote

ACEL has been supporting this initiative for several years and now it is on the ballot! Essentially, what this amendment does is move the poorly attended city elections held in March to the election cycle in the fall along with the school board and primaries. It will save the city money (which is always good) but more importantly, it will increase the voter turnout. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU) has endorsed this amendment. Our most recent spring election had a 14% turnout, to which the Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida said, “It is hard to cite these municipal elections as a democratic reflection of the will of voters.” He added, “Keeping municipal elections on an off-year cycle ensures a lower turn-out. It is time, in these communities and elsewhere, to strengthen our democratic institutions and encourage more voter participation.”

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