On behalf of the departments of the Escambia Board of County Commissioners, I’m pleased to present the Escambia County Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report. Although this report can’t possibly include every activity and achievement from the past fiscal year, I hope it can serve as an overview to give our residents a better understanding of the hard work county staff does every day, often behind the scenes.
While there is always room for improvement, I am happy with the progress we have made this year, especially in regards to improving public access to information and services, encouraging citizen engagement and striving for enhanced transparency:
- Increased number of public meetings: 77 commission meetings, workshops and special forums. Over 35 additional town halls, public meetings and coffees were held.
- Additional notification requirements: Notification requirements were extended or added for many types of potential development activity. Postcards are mailed to property owners and some actions also require the permit requester to hold a town hall-type meeting for residents.
- Improved online resources: In FY2016, the county launched a more user friendly myescambia.com, with new resources added continually. Website has traffic dramatically risen, visits for this fiscal year totaled almost 1.3 million. This is a 73 percent increase in page visits and a 47 percent increase in visitors in FY2017 over FY2016.
- Launched Ask MyEscambia: The Ask MyEscambia mobile app and website is our newest way for citizens to connect with county services. Questions and requests for non-emergency can be submitted directly to the correct department 24/7. From June 17 to Sept. 30, residents submitted 1,805 requests.
This fiscal year has been a memorable one with many challenges and success stories, including:
- Nov. 22, 2016 – District 1 Commissioner Jeff Bergosh was elected and District 3 Commissioner Lumon May and District 5 Commissioner Steven Barry were re-elected and took the oath of office.
- Jan. 1, 2017 – An early morning storm with straight line winds damaged approximately 30 homes and displaced six families in Ensley.
- Jan. 23, 2017 – The International Paper facility on Muscogee Road experienced an explosion of its pulp digester. Emergency crews responded to the scene and county staff later participated in the incident command in an advisory capacity.
- April 25, 2017 – Firefighters moved back into the Myrtle Grove Fire Station. Station 11, which operates as a combination fire service with both volunteer and career firefighting personnel, was closed June 24, 2016 due to a roof leak that resulted in mold issues in the building.
- May 24, 2017 – The Brownsville Community Resource Center opened to a crowd of more than 150. The center, which is home to an after school and summer program, includes a gymnasium/auditorium with seating for more than 1,000, stage and sound system, meeting rooms and a full kitchen. The center has already hosted several community events.
- Spring 2017 - We added 27 new fire rescue personal, with 24 of the new staff based at the Bellview and Innerarity Point stations to implement 24-hour staffing.
- Aug. 10, 2017 - The commission voted unanimously to select Whitesell-Green/Caddell Joint Venture as the No. 1 design-build entity for the new correctional facility. To read more, click here.
- Sept. 26, 2017 – After a “zero-based budget” process, the commissioners passed a balanced 2017/18 budget. There were no increases in taxes. Unfortunately, the board and Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan have yet to come to an agreement on the sheriff’s budget, and he exercised his right to appeal to the governor. At the time of writing this report, we are still awaiting direction from the governor’s office. To learn more about our budget, click here.
- Fall 2017- To improve efficiency, the commission voted to bring the Escambia County Area Transit System, or ECAT, in house starting Oct. 1.
In everything we do, we strive to keep you – the residents – at the forefront. Without you, Escambia County would not be the exceptional community it is today. We pledge to continue working together with our citizens to make Escambia County even better. We wish you and your loved ones all the best in 2018.
Jack R. Brown