At the regular meeting of the council, the Minutes of the February 9th meeting were approved 3-0 with Jacqueline Williams making the motion and Nicole Williams Seconding it.
Acting Mayor Anita Rivers stated the Town concluded their search for alternate applicants to our current interim manager on February 12th. She stated there were two applicants, one from Oak Grove Louisiana and another from O’Brian, FL. One of the applicants apparently had some difficulty when addressing his application/resume. It was addressed to Vice Mayor Anita Rivers but his salutation said dear Mayor Helen Miller.
Acting Mayor Rivers stated that the Town Charter does not say that we have to interview and as such, she is more than satisfied with what Ms. Vanessa George has accomplished. She has accomplished a great deal and there is no need to bring someone in for an interview when our current interim Town Manager has done such an exceptional job.
Councilwoman Jacqueline Williams stated Ms. George is a vast improvement with what we have had in the past.
Acting Mayor Anita Rivers said she is so pleased with the work Ms. George has accomplished and Ms. George just jumped into the position running. In fact, Ms. George started working immediately instead of waiting a week for her actual hire. It was mentioned that Art Walker Construction was ready to sue the Town of White Springs over non-payment. The Journal had been told originally by a citizen who lived in the area of Town Hall that the Walker group was complaining about not being paid, but we had not heard, but anticipated a suit.
Acting Mayor Rivers continued that it is because of Ms. George’s dedication and diligence, that as of this thursday, we will all be signing a $350,000 Line of Credit. Because of Ms. George we have a great attorney and a great staff. We have never received compliments from the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department in the past, but the Sheriff’s Office seems to love working with Ms. George.
Councilwoman Nicole Williams suggested that Ms. Vanessa George be formally hired as our Town Manager with a two year term applicable under her contract. The Griffin’s were concerned that we would have another Stacy Tebo situation whereby we would need, in accordance with our charter, a four to five council vote in order to terminate a manager’s appointment. Since it is in the charter as well as being in the contracts which were previously issued, we did not wish for a Tebo situation to transpire again. When Joe Griffin reviewed the Charter for amendments, he likewise suggested a three to two vote in order to remove a manager.
Attorney Joel F. Foreman who will draft the contract with the appropriate terminology, which we know we have not had an attorney who previously included such legal terminology, stated that there is no reason for a four out of five vote to remove an individual. If a manager may be hired with a three to two vote, then the manager may be terminated with a three to two vote. He, however, suggested that in the event a manager is terminated with a three to two vote, it will be required that the matter be reviewed at a subsequent meeting, giving the council members time to rethink their decision. (The decision will be made in back to back meetings).
In accordance with Florida legislation, it would allow the Town Council to make the change relating to three votes to terminate but have a back to back meeting to verify that was the intent of the council. The law states: A municipality may, by unanimous vote of the governing body, abolish municipal departments provided for in the municipal charter and amend provisions or language out of the charter which has been judicially construed, either by judgment or by binding legal precedent from a decision of a court of last resort, to be contrary to either the State Constitution or Federal Constitution.
It could be that in the heat of the moment a council member may have been upset and had not intended to vote to terminate of possibly just changed his or her mind. This will be a failsafe and fair method rather than a flash in the pan decision over something which should be considered especially when a manager has done a great job up to the point of that decision.
Nicole Williams made the motion to hire Vanessa George as our Town Manager and provide Ms. George with a two year contract. It was seconded by Jacqueline Williams and it passed 3-0
It is amazing what is accomplished at our meetings with those of the old guard leaving office. The meeting was adjourned at 7:32PM; basically an hour’s meeting whereby in the previous days a workshop and meeting would have taken two hours or more.
Great Job Council Members!!!!
Great Advice and summarization of the Applicable Laws, Attorney Foreman!!!
Thank you for all of your work Cynethia Williams and Audre’ Ruise in organizing White Springs from the mess we have had over twenty years. You two young ladies are the best and most proficient we could ever have imagined to serve the citizens of White Springs.
Ray Vaughn, your dedication and service to White Springs Needs is amazing. Curtis Johnson, our long time employee, you do excellent work in whatever you do and we so appreciate you..