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Children’s Services Council meets for first time, swears in members

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 11:08 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Members of the newly-established Children’s Services Council of Leon County were sworn during the inaugural meeting Thursday night.

Residents voted to approve the independent governing body last Fall, which will fund programs and services to improve the lives of local children and their families. The controversial ballot initiative to create the CSC passed with about 65 percent of the vote. The money to fund the council will be provided by taxpayer dollars.

The two-hour meeting was purely focused on organizing the council, and included public comments on how it should be run, training and setting the next meeting’s agenda. Guest speakers included a representative from the statewide children’s council, the County Attorney and Leon County Property Appraiser’s Offices.

“It’s nice to get started,” said Chief Judge of Florida’s 2nd Judicial Circuit, Judge Jonathan Sjostrom.

Sjostrom was elected to chair the council by the 10-person council and spoke to WCTV’s Katie Kaplan after the meeting.

He said the council still had a lot of organizational ends to sure up before it could get to work. For example, the district has not yet established its bylaws and multiple committee meetings will need to take place before they can be officially adopted.

Five members of the CSC are predetermined as part of the statute; they include a Juvenile Court Judge (Sjostrom), Leon County Commissioner Carolyn Cummings, Superintendent Rocky Hanna, a DCF administrator, and a School Board member. The other five members were appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis from a list of fifteen submitted by County commissioners.

Sjostrom said it is a large undertaking, but a privilege to serve.

“I am truly, truly humbled and frankly, terrified, of the confidence that the people have reposed in us by voting for this tax,”he said. “Voting to tax themselves for the benefit of the most vulnerable in our community. Boy, we better do it right.”

One of the first hurdles the council will have to tackle is whether or not they want to meet a June 1 deadline to try and get on the tax roll in late 2021. That would allow CSC to possibly see funding shortly afterward. Otherwise, they will have to wait an entire year.

However, Sjostrom said there are several technical issues that would need to be handled before that could happen with less than a month to do.

The CSC is expected to meet again in a couple of weeks.

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