There were no large protests related to the Kenneth City Town Council’s most recent meeting July 13, although a few citizens reiterated their suggestions that certain elected officials resign and the council’s actual handling of town business continued to reflect some level of dysfunction.
Passage of the consent agenda, which typically happens in a municipal meeting in less than a minute, with zero discussion, was a complicated process that resulted in five of the six items being removed and placed on the regular action agenda.
“Half of this stuff hasn’t even been looked at yet, so I don’t see how we can handle it on the consent agenda,” said councilmember Barbara Roberts. “We haven’t gone over any of it and haven’t seen it before this meeting.”
Interim town manager Rob Duncan pointed out that all of the information to which Roberts referred had been in their packets and discussed during each of his one-on-one meetings with the councilmembers. Roberts then made it clear for the audience that she does not participate in such sessions and that consent agenda items usually have been discussed in a prior meeting.
Councilmember Megan Zemaitis said that she had done a recent one-on-one out of courtesy for the new administration but was against it in principle.
“Any questions that I may have, I’m sure the residents may have the same questions and even more questions, and they would like to hear the discussion and the understanding behind our decision-making,” she said.
“I think everyone sitting in this audience should know what’s in this packet, and know what our questions are and the answers to them,” said Roberts to applause from the audience.
Duncan reminded the council more than once that any member can pull any or all items from the consent agenda, which typically consists of items that are expected to be handled at the administrative level. He acknowledged that the one-on-one sessions had not previously been done in Kenneth City but are part of an attempt to utilize “best practices” based on what other municipalities are doing.
After this discussion ended, the six consent agendas items were reduced to one: the minutes from the June meeting, which were approved. Another item, regarding a comprehensive plan amendment, was simply informative and required no action although a motion passed accepting the presentation.
Zemaitis protested the introduction of the third item, a thank-you letter to recently departed town attorney Randy Mora, because she felt all of the council members should have been offered the chance to sign it. The letter will be redrafted to include all five signatures.
A resolution was passed regarding town signatories, with signatures from any two of four people – the mayor, the town manager, a senior consultant and the police chief – required for certain expenditures.
A revised budget calendar was next, with a third public hearing date changed to Sept. 29. Other dates are Sept. 14 and 28. The final item on what was the consent agenda was acknowledgment of a performance report submitted by Imagine That Performance, the firm contracted to oversee town business in the wake of recent mass resignations by the town manager, town clerk and others.
One of those resignations was by Mora, who gave 30 days notice at the end of the June council meeting. That left the town technically without legal representation for five days. The council convened in a special called meeting just before the regular meeting and appointed Sarah Johnston from the firm of Weiss, Serota, Hellmann, Cole + Bierman, which represents numerous government entities around the state, to fill the role on an interim basis at $250 per hour. During the regular meeting a motion passed directing the town manager to negotiate a contract with that firm for the permanent position.
In other business, the council gave consensus to direct the town manager to research options for updating security at Town Hall for $15,000 or less with the review of Vice Mayor Kyle Cummings.
A discussion of accounting solution paths resulted in two separate directives: in the short term, a motion to extend an existing contract with Aclarian in six-week increments was passed; and for the long term, the council gave consensus for Imagine That Performance to research a turn-key accounting solution it proposed.
The police chief reported an overall positive result from the town’s July 4 event, and announced that the Florida Department of Transportation recently provided the department with a $1,000 speed laser for traffic enforcement.
Two letters were read during public comment time documenting alleged dysfunction in town government and suggesting that the mayor and certain council members resign. Both letters were met with applause from the audience. One speaker in attendance asked if it were possible for the entire council to be put into conflict resolution.
The interim town clerk told The Gabber that, as of July 18, her office had not received a recall petition for any of the town’s elected officials.