Tallahassee City Commission discusses city audit, fiber study, and transmission line agreement

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
September 11, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The City of Tallahassee's September 11 Commission meeting included agenda items of a possible city audit, a fiber study and an agreement with Gulf Power.

City Audit
The City of Tallahassee received a letter from the United States Attorney, detailing its policy on actions of the City, regarding a possible audit in the wake of the guilty pleas of former City Commissioner Scott Maddox.

Commissioner Jeremy Matlow previously called for an audit of all contracts bid during Scott Maddox' time in office; Mayor John Dailey responded, explaining that the Justice Department had requested the City hold off until the federal investigation is complete.

The letter explains that it is the policy of the Justice Department not to take a position on the actions of an "outside sovereign," in this case, the City of Tallahassee.

In the agenda item, City Attorney Cassandra Jackson included her own recommendation, writing that a review of the process should occur after there is "reasonable certainty that th federal investigation related to these matters is complete."

She also wrote, "In my opinion, this could be as soon as the sentencing of Mr. Maddox."

Commissioner Matlow made another push for the audit at the September commission meeting.

The Commissioners voted to authorize the City Auditor to develop a plan to move forward with an audit in the next six months.

NextEra Transmission Line Agreement
The City Commission voted to approve Gulf Power's Co-Location Agreement and route with Leon County to create the North Florida Resiliency Connection transmission line.

There was public comment both in favor, and against the line during the meeting.

The City manager of Sneads, located in Jackson County, spoke in favor of the line, strengthening infrastructure in the wake of possible major hurricanes such as Michael.

The new line will improve the City's transmission system at no cost to the City and provides for expansion capability.

Approval of State Lobbying Contract
The City voted to approve staff's recommendation of the establishment of a one-year contract with GrayRobinson, P.A.

That was the highest scored firm after staff's Request for Proposals for state lobbying services.

Tallahassee has separate contracts for federal lobbying services, general state lobbying services, and electric utility lobbying services.

Fiber Study
City Commission directed staff to partner with local universities to complete a study analyzing the City's fiber infrastructure.

The scope included the use of the fiber network in providing broadband Internet to impact economic development and increase availability for residents.

The City has also been approached by several private internet providers hoping to establish business partnerships in the context of fiber development.

The discussion of the "digital divide" began in December of 2018. The full study explores the potential of developing the network, using fiber to establish points of presence, and developing smart city infrastructure, which might include smart parking.

Comcast representatives will be available to the student teams for data information, and staff has also met with Point Broadband.

FAMU Small Business Institute students will present their findings to the City Commission on December 4th.

Consent Agenda: StarMetro, Right-of-Way maintenance, Debt Collection
The City Commission approved the entire consent agenda.

StarMetro received a grant allocation from FDOT, which is an annual operating grant for FY2020. StarMetro will receive about $1,180,000. The operating budget will meet the required 50% local match.

FDOT entered into an agreement with the City to perform right-of-way maintenance along state streets in the City. The agreements have been in place since 1991, and this new agreement will last for three years.

The City of Tallahassee currently contracts with Penn Credit Corporation for debt collection services for any delinquent debts owed to the City. Five companies have submitted bids to provide this service, and the City granted approval to staff to negotiate a contract with the lowest bidder for the next three years.

Consent Agenda: JAG Award
The City of Tallahassee and Leon County have receive da combined federal award of $153,335 through the FY2019 Justice Assistance Grant.

The Commission granted approval for the allocation of those funds.

$70,000 will go to the DISC Village Juvenile Assessment Center Booking Unit.

$40,418 will go to equipment for TPD. The department will use the funding to purchase new AEDs, working toward the goal of equipping all patrol cars with the life-saving technology.

$40,418 will go to the Leon County Sheriff's Office; that money is earmarked for license plate readers.

$1,250 of both TPD's and LCSO's allocations, 3 percent, will be set aside for the National Incident-based Reporting System, which will replace the National Uniform Crime Reporting System that is currently utilized.

Proclamations: Removing Racial Language
Mayor John Dailey presented a proclamation from the Task Force for the Removal of Racially Restrictive Language from all Neighborhood Covenants at the meeting.

The proclamation is the result of months of meeting of the task force, which was formed after racist language was discovered in the Betton Hills neighborhood covenants, which is not the only neighborhood in Tallahassee with that issue.

The proclamation denounces the language as unconstitutional, unenforceable, and offensive. It calls for the removal or redaction of the language from all the recording instruments on real property presented to real estate purchasers in the City of Tallahassee.

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