Polk County Commissioners recently outlined their legislative priorities, which will be presented to the Polk County Legislative Delegation at the delegation's community meeting on Oct. 7 at Polk State College.

Most of the board's wish list involves road projects, but also includes some new equipment for Polk County's Fire Rescue department.

All told, the board's priorities involve about $22 million in funding asks, but also include support for a number of ongoing policy issues, including unfunded mandates, recyclables, housing funding, mental health treatment issues and water quality and availability projects.

Topping the county's list of priorities is money to pay for part of the improvements to County Road 557, an $80 million widening project, which County Manager Bill Beasley says will alleviate traffic congestion on U.S. 17/92 and U.S. Highway 27.

The five-member county board is asking the state to cough up between $10 and $12 million to buy the rights of way to widen the road.

Also topping the county's wish list for the eight delegation members, is another $7.5 million to be reallocated from the Bartow Northern Connector Project Phase 2 to the Central Polk Parkway project.

The Northern Connector Phase 2 would extend Phase 1, which is called Ernest Smith Boulevar,d from its terminus at U.S. 17, east of Bartow, on south to connect with State Road 60, east of Bartow.

The Central Polk Parkway is in the planning stages now and is expected to link the Polk County Parkway to U.S. 17.

Beasley also recently told the county board that Polk Fire Rescue needed new tanker trucks because many of those currently in use are 10-years-old or older. He said the $2 million would pay for “four or five new tanker trucks.”

Policy wise, the county board wants to remind its state representatives “strongly” not to send down unfunded mandates, where the state passes laws that wind up being implemented and paid for by local government.

“This is a perpetual issue,” the county manager said, “and we just want to remind them of it.”

The Polk County Legislative Delegation is comprised of State Senators Ben Albritton, Tom Lee and Kelly Stargel and State Representatives Melony Bell, Colleen Burton,Mike La Rosa, Sam Killebrew and Josie Tomkow.

Beasley said the board would make an appearance at the delegation's October meeting and would also continue its individual board member visits with legislators.

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