Where our Charter has a few ambiguities

 When one looks at the Town’s Charter (Constitution) certain ambiguities may have to be changed as have been mentioned by Town Attorney Joel Foreman at last night’s workshop.

 

 

Note the highlighted items below:  In both the police and fire departments, it is stated the Town Council may hire a third party law enforcement agency or a third party fire protection agency.  Yet there is no specific clarification with respect to the police chief or fire chief when it comes to a third party in charge.

 

 

Clarification must be made with respect to the Police Chief and the Fire Chief only supervising their respective departments but they shall not have any supervisory requirements of a third party.

 

Someone may say…really!  Shouldn’t a person understand that the police chief or the fire chief had no business supervising a third party?  Furthermore it sort of institutes the feeling that the Fire Chief is a paid employee whereas the Fire Department’s chief is like all the department a volunteer.   

One of the questions raised was whether the Fire Department could have paid employees on a full time basis since it was not mentioned.  If it is not mentioned, it is up to the council to make the decision and policy.  What is not mentioned may not be restricted.

Throughout the years, so very many rules have been broken and after our police Chief’s motorcycle accident, we were told she did not have the necessary subsequent operation on her ankle I believe.  That probably is why she has taken family leave at this time.  She may have not been able to get back her police certification.

Furthermore, we heard that even Ft. White has entered into contractual relationships with Columbia County to provide certain services which Ft. White could not provide financially.  As Attorney Foreman told us, these interlocal agreements are very important.    As I had mentioned, our police department payroll and benefits, etc. without consideration of the vehicles, instructions, radios, gear, etc cost in excess of $200,000 to White Springs Annually and the income is basically $2,000 annually or one percent.

Now the volunteer fire department is a whole other kettle of fish.  They have an interlocal agreement with Hamilton County for $30,000 a year.  Although the County essentially did not pay our Volunteers what was expected and stated it was because full compliance was not met, it still irks me that with the word “could” means the County COULD not pay the fire department volunteers.  It did not state “SHALL not” pay the volunteers so in my opinion this was a decision on the part of the County even though our volunteers went to every call but two which those two calls did not require firefighters.  So I hope the county someday will be better to our firefighters. 

Not only that, the Firefighters have received grants and donations and they make money at fundraisers, which most of the time in the past, the money had been taken away from them by the old guard.

Note the requirements relating to the Fire Chief.  Stacy Tebo and Rhett Bullard had no right demoting or removing Kevin Pittman as fire Chief.  Pittman had more credentials and experience, is local and is a fantastic leader.  Based on the requirements, what was said of him in the complaint never held ground.

 

Section 5.05 Police Department

The Town of White Springs, Florida has the responsibility for providing law enforcement services, whether by and through a White Springs Police Department or by and through an appropriate contractual relationship with a third party law enforcement agency.

 

 The Town Council shall have the sole discretion in determining the manner for providing law enforcement services for the safety and well-being of the citizens of White Springs, Florida. Nothing herein shall prevent the White Springs Police Department from assisting or being assisted by neighboring agencies as the need arises.

 

The Department shall be supervised by the Chief of Police. The Chief of Police shall be a state certified police officer having recent and continuous law enforcement and supervisory experience on a full time basis.

 

The Police Chief shall ensure that all personnel are properly trained, educated, equipped, and controlled to the highest possible level. The Police Chief shall be responsible for the daily operation of the Police Department, the performance of its employees and the fiscal requirements of the department. The Police Chief shall be responsible to and report to the Town Manager.

 

 

Section 5.06 Fire Department

The Town of White Springs, Florida has the responsibility for providing fire protection services, whether by and through a White Springs Volunteer Fire Department or by and through an appropriate contractual relationship with a third party fire protection agency

 

The Town Council shall have the sole discretion in determining the manner in which fire protection services for the safety and well-being of the citizens of White Springs, Florida is provided. Nothing herein shall prevent the White Springs Volunteer Fire Department from assisting neighboring agencies as the need arises.

 

The Fire Department shall be supervised by a Fire Chief having substantial fire fighting and supervisory experience.

 

 The Fire Chief shall insure that the department is adequately equipped at all times.

 

 The Fire Chief shall provide inspections and continuous training and education for the associated personnel.

 

The Fire Chief shall insure that there are adequate quantities of fire hydrants and that they are in proper working order.

 

The Fire Chief shall provide for emergency services and insure that all equipment is serviceable at all times.