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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Alachua County Commission approves CareerSource consolidation agreement

Two branches would be combined to serve six counties, including Alachua County

In its meeting Tuesday, the Alachua County Commission approved the terms of an agreement consolidating two branches of CareerSource Florida.

CareerSource Florida is a “statewide workforce policy and investment board,” according to its website. Working through local offices, the company connects unemployed residents with jobs and helps to provide necessary training.

Alachua and Bradford Counties were previously served by CareerSource North Central Florida. The new Six County CareerSource Interlocal Agreement consolidates the branch and CareerSource Florida Crown, which served Columbia, Dixie and Gilchrist Counties. The change comes after a recommendation from CareerSource Florida to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The new workforce development area would serve all six counties and be governed by a new six-member council composed of the chair of each county commission — or another commissioner appointed by the chair.

Votes would be weighted based on population and grant funding. The Alachua County member would have five votes, while the other counties’ members would have one vote each.

Liability for the proposed council would also be weighted based on population. Alachua County would have 66% of liability for disallowed costs. Columbia would have 16%, Bradford 6% and the remaining counties 4% each.

Several of the commissioners were concerned  how the other, smaller counties felt about the consolidation. Commissioner Ken Cornell believed the change could bring a positive impact to the counties and their residents, who often find employment in Alachua County, he said.

“I think it’s really important that they understand the benefit of associating with Alachua County, where many of their citizens actually are employed,” Cornell said.

Tommy Crosby, the assistant county manager, explained the agreement to the commissioners at the meeting. He’d heard in several of the affected counties the consolidation was seen as an “Alachua County takeover,” he said.

“Alachua County did not ask for this at all,” Crosby said. “We are strictly trying to comply and work with the state on what they asked us.”

To Commissioner Anna Prizzia, the agreement didn’t sound like it was weighted appropriately. Alachua County would only get 50% of the votes in the proposed council; the other counties would receive 10%. Prizzia didn’t know “why Columbia County would agree to that” and doesn’t believe it’s fair to the county, she said.

“I don’t think it’s a good deal for Alachua County. I don’t think it’s a good deal for Columbia County,” Prizzia said. “I honestly don’t know why we’re even having this conversation.”

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The county should also be allowed more than two members on the council, she said. A single member would struggle with pushback from members of the other counties.

“I just think there needs to be two people in the room,” Prizzia said. “I don’t know who would want to take this position, where you could potentially be stuck in a room in a contentious situation all on your own.”

After further discussion, the commission offered two proposed changes to the agreement’s terms. Alachua County would be allowed more than one member on the council and its liability would be lowered from 66% to 50%. 

The motion was approved by staff and seconded by Commissioner Marihelen Wheeler. It was passed unanimously with a 5-0 vote.

Per the agreement, the consolidation is planned for July 1.

Contact Bailey Diem at Follow her on X @BaileyDiem

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Bailey Diem

Bailey Diem is a first-year journalism major and a metro general assignment reporter for The Alligator. When not reporting, Bailey can be found playing guitar or getting lost in a book.

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