Death of a City

BAY COUNTY-- Two months ago, the city of Springfield declared a financial emergency with the state.

This isn't the first time a city in Bay County has faced this type situation. Springfield could end up dissolved like Cedar Grove.

Many things changed after Bay County took over Cedar Grove. That Includes Law Enforcement services, which initially concerned some business owners.

It was former Cedar Grove Commissioner Janet Beier who decided in 2007 residents were not getting enough services for the taxes and fees they pay. The city was having money problems.

She collected enough signatures on a petition to place the town's fate in the hands of the voters.

While Beiers had her supporters for dissolution, many others wanted to keep the city. They pointed to the Florida Supreme Court, which was about to rule the city could declare a community redevelopment area worth an estimated $65 million.

On September 30, a majority of the voters when to the polls and decided they no longer wanted to be a city. Over the next 2 months, the city's property transferred to Bay County.

On October 23, 2008, the Cedar Grove Police Department ceased to exist. All law enforcement was handed down to the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

Larry Lee, who owns Coin and Bullion Reserves, was concerned about the security of the millions of dollars in coins and jewelry in his story.

"The Cedar Grove Police Department was only four or more blocks away. So we had excellent response from them. As it turns out, there's really good saturation at this point of the county with Bay County deputies as well. So the response time didn't really change as much afraid that it would," Lee said.

While the dissolution did not hurt Lee, it has hurt another business owner.

"Most of the stuff we did was for the Cedar Grove Police Department, but we don't have that now. We enjoyed working on the cars, it drew in more business. You know, we're capable on working on that, hey," Benjamin Johnson, owner of Mad hatter Automotive Center, said.

It's been six years since county workers took down the city limit signs, ending the town's 57 year history as a city.

Many residents are pleased with the outcome.

"Overall, I would not go back to a town as far as that branch of government because it's uncalled for to be charged for the duplication of services. There's no need to pay twice for the same service," Tony Brannen, former Cedar Grove Commissioner said.

"The dissolution of Cedar Grove other than the standpoint of the people, who are involved in the politics of Cedar Grove at the time that it happened, has sort of been a non-event. I really have had very little impact on what I see as Cedar Grove."

Bay County Sheriff's officials say they've been successful protecting the Cedar Grove area. They even created a crime prevention office staffed by a deputy answering only Cedar Grove calls.

This year alone, the Bay County Sheriff's Office has answered about 2,200 calls to the Cedar Grove area.