This is Mayor Helen B. Millers response to Joe Griffin’s complaint that essentially a “Town Manager” is an employee, not a consultant or also known as an independent contractor like attorneys, Certified Public Accountants, our wastewater treatment person who is training one of our employees, etc. A Town Manager is UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE COUNCIL AND SUPERVISES STAFF, USES THE SUPPLIES OF THE TOWN AND DOES NOT BILL FOR HIS TOWN MANAGER POSITION. Mr. Jones in accordance with his computer design and security systems, in turn could be a “Consultant” but he must bill the Town separate of the hours he is working as a Town Manager. The IRS is very firm on this matter and its requirements.
We do not disagree with any of the facts until Mayor Miller goes into her findings. She apparently, nor can the majority of the council understand or even absorb the laws which were included within Joe’s complaints. A “Town Manager” IS NOT A CONSULTANT but as all things are, our Town Attorney did not respond and the only person who declined to vote on the issue was Tonja Brown. Perhaps the councilors should refer this information to Mr. Whitehead who knows a wealth of information including our town’s workers comp mis-classifications and herein lies another problem with reporting besides taxes in this wierd arrangement since the council is afraid of making Mr. Jones an employee. I am certain Mayor Miller devised this entire scenario for what reasons, only she knows. Time will sort this matter out, but unfortunately I fear to the detriment of White Springs.
Mr. Griffin’s complaint dated January 14, 2020 alleges that Town Attorney Meagan Logan has violated FS 112.313(6) Misuse of Public Position. This section states that “No public officer, employees of an agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit or exemption for himself, herself, or others. This section shall not be construed to conflict with S 104.31.
When in receipt of a citizen complaint, it has been Council’s practice to review the complaint during a regular meeting, and then to determine if the complaint has merit.
When confronted with the need to secure a chief administrative officer after being given notice of Ms. Tebo’s resignation, who at the time was the Town Manager, the Town Council acted to retain an interim town manager using a consulting contract with Mr. Tommie Jones, President and Owner of CountyLine Design Business Services, Inc. Mr. Jones is a full-time resident of White Springs.
TOWN COUNCIL AUTHORITY
Town Charter Article III, Town Manager Section 3.01, by a majority vote of its total membership shall appoint a town manager and enter into a mutually acceptable written agreement for the services of the Town Manager. The agreement may specify the term, conditions and benefits of the appointment. The council vote was 5 in favor and none dissenting.
Furthermore, as written in the Town Charter, Section 5.02 Professionals, consultants, subsection (b), “The Town Council may retain consultants as the Council deems necessary , and as may be required by general law or government rule and regulation, and when so required in compliance with FS 287.055. Said consultants shall serve under and at the pleasure of the Town Council.”
During the Council Meeting, when this action was voted on, Town Attorney Logan was asked if Council had the authority to act to retain Mr. Jones as Interim Town Manager under a consulting agreement. Ms. Logan agreed that Council had this authority.
The reasons for the Council governing expeditiously, and for retaining Mr. Jones part-time on a 20 hour per week basis, are as follows:
- Since Town Manager Townsend’s resignation in 2012, the Town has experienced difficulty recruiting an experienced and qualified town manager. (Bill Lawrence was qualified but he couldn’t wait to leave this town. The Council would not let him speak much less listen to him. And, Townsend was not experienced.)
- Due to budgetary limitations on the funding available for employing a full-time experienced and qualified town manager, Council arrived at a consensus that a part-time administrator was more financially prudent. (And for a small town our size, the work should be able to be done part-time. In fact Townsend was a manager part-time and was the wastewater and water utilities person).
- Council determined that a consulting agreement was more appropriate than entering into an employment contract with a new administrator since Council Members wanted more time to determine the mix of skills needed in a new Town Manager, and, if indeed a full-time administrator was required, and (Gee did the council read the statutes and consult a tax attorney relating to their decision to have a “consulting agreement” which is absurd for one who is considered an Interim Town Manager under the control of the council)
- Council and the Town Attorney acted in good faith to identify and retain an interim Town Manager to administer the Town’s affairs. Council and the Town Attorney had no corrupt intent, and did not secure special benefit for themselves, nor for Mr. Jones who was retained through agreement with his consulting firm, CountyLine Design Business Services, Inc. (Not corrupt but possibly ignorant of the existing laws of Florida and the IRS. We have no complaints of Mr. Jones performance only that he is an interim town manager who the Town labels a consultant…but Mayor Miller definitely made a professional response not addressing the actual issue )
Similarly, while retaining Mr. Jones as the Town’s chief administrative officer on a part-time basis, Council has also retained Mr. Michael Whitehead through J & S Tax Consultants on a part-time, per hour basis to conduct a forensic analysis of the Town’s accounting practices, procedures, and records. Mr. Walter Harry Davis is retained part-time, on a per hour basis for Water and Wastewater Plant Operations, and Ms. Logan herself is retained through her firm, Douglas & Carter, on a part-time, per hour basis.
Mr. Jones’ 33 years of experience being employed by Broward County, Florida, which include Water and Wastewater Operations, Project and Program Management, Oracle Database Administration 8i, 9i, 10G Computer Applications has served the Town favorably with an immediate savings of $9,000 when he identified, developed and successfully implemented a methodology to archive and retain emails to comply with Florida’s Chapter 119 Public Records’ statutes.
Section 112.313(6) Florida Statutes, states: MISUSE OF PUBLIC POSITION. No public officer, employee of an agency, or local government attorney shall corruptly use or attempt to use his or her official position or any property or resource which may be within his or her trust, or perform his or her official duties, to secure a special privilege, benefit or exemption for himself, herself or others.
Section 112.312(9), Florida Statutes defines “corruptly” as…done with a wrongful intent and for the purpose of obtaining or compensating or receiving compensation for, any benefit resulting from some act or omission of a public servant which is inconsistent with the proper performance of his or her public duties.
The writer of the complaint has not demonstrated that Ms. Logan’s agreement that retaining Mr. Jones as the interim Town Manager by a consulting agreement – deemed within the Council’s authority – amounts to Misuse of Public Position by Town Attorney Meagan Logan. There is no indication or evidence in the complaint demonstrating the decision to retain Mr. Jones was done corruptly, that is with a wrongful intent and for the purpose of obtaining or compensating or receiving compensation for, any benefit resulting from an act or omission by Town Attorney Meagan Logan which is inconsistent with the proper performance of her public duties.
For these reasons, the complaint against Twn Attorney Meagan Logan is without merit and I urge Council Members to dismiss the complaint.
A battle fought by skirting the real issue of the complaint.