Provided below are summaries of comments made by citizens at two recent local government meetings.
Public Comments at County Commission Meeting
During the September 12, 2023 Leon County Commission meeting, a number of Leon County citizens attended to share their concerns and opinions on current issues facing Leon County.
A group of Lake Munson residents joined the meeting to express their concern with the County and City not taking priority in and disregarding the issues in Lake Munson. Lake Munson’s issues include pollution, algal blooms, toxic sediments, invasive vegetation and more.
One resident noted that these problems have been going on for over 30 years and asked the Commission to take action on a list of things, including, “end the drawdown, support EPA super funds site assessment, ask for state management of Lake Munson via FWC, issue an RFI for sediment removal and hold a joint City/County Lake Munson Capital Cascades for storm water workshop.”
Additionally, two residents expressed their concern with the state of West Pensacola Street. One Leon County resident asked the Commission to find a way to allocate more funds to law enforcement agencies within the community to be more successful in their policing and to keep the community safer. As a stake holder for the Pensacola community, “we’re suffering everyday with robberies, assaults, burglaries, stalking and murders … our businesses, tenants, and customers can no longer take every single day being in fear for our lives.”
Another resident stated, “the stories of our area are horrifying. People are beat up, robbed, car break-ins, home invasions, office robberies, vacant apartments being taken over by squatters, vandalism, drug sells, prostitution, and the list goes on and on.”
Public Comments at City Commission Meeting
During the September 13, 2023 City Commission meeting, a large group of citizens attended the meeting to voice their concerns on current issues facing Tallahassee and it’s residents.
Several people came to protest the fraternity house located at 525 East College Ave. Many of the citizens who have lived on the block for years are now looking to relocate due to issues the fraternity is causing. Although the fraternity has not been granted a certificate of occupancy nor has it officially moved in, the future occupants have already begun to host fraternity events.
These events have caused issues such as, extremely loud music, foul language, illegal parking and more. One resident stated, “The loud music easily exceeds the acceptable limits outlined in the City’s noise ordinance … if the music can be heard from homes a block away, just imagine how loud it is for a family who lives across the street.” She went on to explain that many of the future occupants have attempted to park in home owners’ driveways and have blocked driveways/roadways for extended periods of time.
A handful of residents located on the west side of town spoke about the crime issues impacting West Pensacola Street. One resident explained the issues taking place on Pensacola Street range from shootings, break-ins, trespassers, assaults and homelessness. Another resident pointed out how unsafe it felt to simply walk outside on Pensacola Street, and how the unsafe part of town has been “zoned to be full of students” by commissioners. Additionally, the speakers asked the Commission to continue to make public safety a priority.
A group of firefighters and their spouses/families came to speak on the “unlivable wage” firefighters in Leon County make (one firefighter claimed most earn around $500 a week). Many pointed out that while the cost of goods and housing rises, a firefighter’s salary does not.
Many of the first responders expressed their concern with their take home pay, with one firefighter stating, “On paper my $54,000 salary looks pretty good. However, after taxes and deductions, I bring home just over $33,000 a year to provide for my family. With inflation and the rising cost of goods, services, groceries and gasoline, I’m ashamed to say I live paycheck to paycheck. At the end of the month there’s just nothing left.”
Additionally, one firefighter’s wife noted that it was easy to understand the drop in applicants due to the unfair treatment of these first responders. She noted that, “The City was able to reach an agreement with police in only a handful of negotiations, while firefighters have met with the City going on 11 sessions, and have seen little to no movement at all … how many other first responders must work a second job to pay their bills?”