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THE ISSUE: Vision Check 2030.

OUR OPINION: Plan now to make a better future for all of us.

As Maj. Justin Ferrara of the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office pointed out in a recent guest column, Florida, and by extension Citrus County, continue to see significant population growth.

Florida is now the third most populous states in the country. Citrus County’s population is expected to grow by 10 percent over the next decade to 161,100.

This type of growth increases the demand for services and puts a strain on the existing resources and those agencies providing resources.

The sheriff’s department is included those agencies that will face challenges in the next decade. Those challenges will require planning for today as they will directly affect the budget. Planning ahead will not only position law enforcement to meet the upcoming challenges, but will can help save money in the long run.

As the population expands, so will the sheriff’s department. They will need to plan for additional personnel, facilities and capital improvements to meet the increased demand for services.

Deputy retention and recruitment continues to be an issue and will only grow as the need for trained personnel expands.

There are number of other factors to consider when faced with expansion of services including mental health treatment for front line responders and additional training to deal with the growing threat of domestic terrorism.

As you can clearly see, these considerations will need constant attention. No longer can the county choose the path of least resistance by rolling back millage rates and ignoring the growing need for services and improved infrastructure.

Ferrara put it best when he wrote: “Preparation, communication, and working diligently to preemptively inhibit vulnerabilities are the initial steps in ensuring we leave Citrus County in a better position for future generations to enjoy.”

Those interested in participating in planning for Citrus County’s future are invited to register by Monday, Sept. 16 for the Destiny By Design Vision Check scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at the College of Central Florida Citrus Campus Conference Center in Lecanto. For more information, call the Citrus County Chamber at 352-795-3149.

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