Although Councilwoman Helen B. Miller objected to changes being made by ordinance which will affect the original White Springs Town Charter, our Council is determined to not have the citizens vote as required by law but rather all changes will be made by ordinance alone. I will try and provide you with the crux of Ordinance 19-02 in full tomorrow. It appears Karen Hatton our Town Attorney drafted it and stated how difficult it was to place all the changes within an ordinance. The Town of White Springs is incorporated and when it incorporated with the State of Florida, Articles of Incorporation and the Town Charter are provided to the State. In fact this Charter was drawn when the State had to take over our town due to near bankruptcy, and at that time the Charter was revised to what it is today, with the exception of the ordinances for which the Citizens of White Springs will have an opportunity to vote on these changes on April 23, 2019.
Since 19-03 Adopted Rules to Conduct council Meetings and included therein a change in the charter relating to “Roberts Rules of Order” basically being changed so that if it is not used, the items the Council voted on would not be affected because of not using “Roberts Rules of Order” incorrectly. Councilwoman Miller Objected stating that since the Charter approved “Roberts Rules of Order” such should have been included under Ordinance 19-02 to be voted upon with the balance of changes to the Charter. in the referendum. It passed 4-1 with Councilwoman Miller objecting.
Councilman McKenzie had a problem with receiving paperwork agenda items 48 hours in advance of a meeting. It was stated that an alteration could be made to 72 hours or to receive such paperwork by Saturday to give more time.
Rather than Mayor Lofton answering questions which Councilwoman Miller asked, Councilman Rhett Bullard continually interrupted, responded with a red face, antics and gestures, continually trying to respond for everyone else. Frankly it was hilarious because his answers sometimes did not make a lot of sense, then he corrects himself then he goes again into some fanatical explanation at a rapid pace. At the end of the meeting, When he kept interrupting Councilwoman Miller, she finally had enough and addressed the council stipulating that the meetings would be much shorter if Councilman Bullard did not keep interrupting and answering for someone she had directed her questions to.
Resolutions #19-02 Declaring Parcel #8380-000 as surplus Property was agreed to; therefore after asking all adjacent property owners whether they wished to purchase the land when it was not passed by the Council in November as to its sale to Roger Greene, none responded, allowing such land to be sold to Greene.
On the amount for which the land is being sold to Roger Greene, Walter McKenzie inquired what Market Value is. Instead of advising him that is is the Amount the seller is willing to sell the property for and what the buyer is willing to pay, Manager Tebo explained that the market value was determined by the Realtor. And most realtors determine that market value along with the depreciated value or the replacement cost. The vote was 4 to 1 due to the fact that Councilwoman Miller Stated that such land is inappropriate to be considered “Surplus” because land is not included within the definition of surplus. Her words exactly “This doesn’t meet the surplus policy of the Town”.
Joe and I were escorted out of the Town Hall meeting when Joe was not allowed to provide Attorney General Opinions relating to the Town’s misspending of Loft Funds. I attempted to address the council since Joe could not be heard and Mayor Lofton would not take the opinions but the officer did as he escorted us out. This tirade was due to Rhett Bullard ranting that we have taken the complaint to various agencies about the Local Option Fuel Tax abuse and until he receives something, this will not change. He further told Councilwoman Miller that of course payments (accounts payable) are made prior to the council meeting approval and that Ken Daniels had asked that it be provided to the Council at meetings but payments are made prior to the meeting. Stacy Tebo said no where she has ever worked did the Council have to approve the accounts payable. Does this mean Ms. Tebo has reign over money including that which is over $2,500. I guess so.
Of course the situation of the Fire Department came up as it always does. Councilwoman Miller advised the council that if it is the intent of the Town to secure a Fire Engine from USDA, there needs to be shown an income to the Fire Department. Of course with our not signing the agreement with Hamilton County, there is no income. When Councilwoman Miller inquired, Rhett Bullard went in to a rant about not being sued for $2,000,00 because Hamilton County had some ambiguity about a fireman and an EMS going to each fire. Then Councilwoman Miller again asked for Mayor Spencer Lofton to give her an answer and Lofty said he was negotiating with the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, specifically Commissioner Randy Ogburn and that they were starting to see the errors of their ways. What??? We Still do not have a real fire Department and Joe Griffin said we have three people in White Springs and one is not certified……No one seems to respond with a real list and we do not have a fire department since we lost the brotherhood of Pittman. Joe called Steve Stith a liar and of course that does not go over well with anyone but he is.
What was amazing is that Councilman Miller had a listing of non-responses to Fires and EMS. Although her concern was why could we not have firefighters responding to fires in White Springs, Councilman Rhett Bullard went into a rant of how White Springs consists of volunteers and if volunteers are not available because they are not paid like they are in Jasper that we can’t expect them to be there. Councilwoman Miller referred to the Charter and inquired as to whether White Springs will have to pay Genoa for their services which I do not believe she received an answer of any kind other than Rhett and Lofty pulling straws on suppositions.
Then there’s the Chevy Work Truck and for better gas mileage, it was decided to go with a Ford F150 instead of a 250 with an extended cab which will cost $27,613 in lieu of $27,693. The Gang of Three voted with McKenzie and Miller objecting by reason that Miller stated it was an additional expense we did not need.
Also the Gang of Three along with Walter McKenzie, whose body language seemed to look to Rhett Bullard for answers this evening…quite strange…might be a gang of four approved Town Attorney Karen Hatton’s contract. Walter McKenzie stated initially he thought a 25% increase was too much but after doing research, he found Attorney Hatton to be in line.. Anyway, Councilwoman Miller objected by reason, I am certain that she was not a civil attorney like Attorney Koberlein was and and her expertise is in Criminal Law….but I am just guessing but then there was the LOFT funds where Attorney Hatton did not read the statute appropriately and is helping the Town misuse LOFT funds.
Shonda Werts has been to code enforcement school and has just taken her tests and the Town does not yet have the results. She is still working on the junk Car issue and will have a flyer by the end of the month.
We were told that a food pantry is operating out of the old police station/jail. Councilwoman Miller stated that although there was some talk relating to a pantry last year, the Council never voted on leasing the building which is public property to Arthur Natteal and Shonda Werts for a Food Pantry. Tonja lit up and said Shonda had a brochure at the Azalea festival last year. Lofty said he doesn’t have anything to do with leases. Rhett claimed it was voted on and Councilwoman Miller objected. Councilwoman Miller then Addressed Stacy Tebo and requested a copy of the lease, what items are given to people, when the food bank is open, to whom do they provide food, etc. because apparently some people have heard about it and called her and she has not information. The Non-Profit of Mr. Natteal’s is called Faith and Action. One of the excuses given, I am certain because there is no lease and they will now have to draft it up is that since the Beauty Parlor left two years ago, the building is vacant and has been vacant until Shonda and Arthur started the Food Pantry. Councilwoman Miller said that since it is “Public Property” the people have the right to know everything about Faith and Action.
Karin for the Blog