Florence council removes pages from minutes
The word of the night at the Florence city council meeting was “Gestapo.”
Councilman Trayce Warner first used the term to describe a motion by councilman Reilly Reid.
“To me it seems like Gestapo tactics to eliminate that much discussion that was had in the meeting,” Warner said.
Reid proposed removing six-and-a-half pages from the Aug. 6 meeting minutes. The section was an exchange between business owner Sarah Dawson and the council, where Dawson recounted previous meeting minutes and council claims regarding the Crystal Springs matter.
The motion was passed by a 2-1 vote with councilman Ken Hoffman and Reid voting in favor and councilman Matt Williams abstaining because he was not present.
After the motion passed, Hoffman noticed an important section about city clerk Janet Robinson‘s interactions with the DeForest family’s previous lawyer was missing. It was revised to leave in her interactions. The motion passed by the same count.
“This is a pretty important issue, so I really think the points need to be put in the minutes that are there,” Robinson said.
Williams later handed out a policy for operating meetings in an orderly fashion, which was not classified as an ordinance.
Williams requested Mayor Bob Gayle read the policy proposal to the council.
“I don’t want it to be my policy,” Williams said. “I want it to be the council’s policy.”
Anyone wishing to address the council at a regularly scheduled meeting must provide the city clerk a description of their intent and will be placed on the agenda. This must be done before 4 p.m. on the Wednesday before the council’s next regularly scheduled meeting. The presenter will receive three minutes to speak, which may be extended by the council for another five minutes. The city council may only interact with the presenter to have a statement repeated or clarified.
Smaller matters like potholes will be handled during community comments and will allow presenters two minutes at the podium.
The policy establishes an “orderly manner” for members of the community to interact with council.
“I have a few issues, but I’d like a little bit more time to review each item on this,” Warner said. My primary issue is, sounds like more Gestapo stuff.”
Hoffman thought the policy made sense and that a mayor of another town had asked him why such a thing wasn’t already in place.
“I was questioned about how our meetings were being run by a mayor of a much smaller town who wanted to know why we didn’t have this in place then,” he said.
With a vote of 3-1, the policy passed. It will be effective for the next regular meeting, on Sept. 10.
The meeting was moved from Sept. 3 to Sept. 10 because of the holiday.
A budget hearing has been set for 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Sarah Dawson later came forward to ask how the city was progressing with hiring a superintendent.
“I’m just asking if we’ve hired anybody or even interviewed anybody,” Dawson said.
The roads are not being maintained properly, which is a concern with Labor Day approaching, she said.
“If you go up 5th St. or down 5th St., there’s grass growing in the street,” Dawson said. “So I don’t know if the city streets are the city’s responsibility anymore.”
The new lights at the baseball field, which are needed for the Labor Day baseball tournament, are installed and functional.
“It looks good when it’s all lit up,” Warner said. “It looks good from clear up on the hill coming into town.”
According to an audience member whose daughter fell through the bleachers, there are sections that are still unsafe and falling apart.
Repairs to the city gymnasium are on a 60-day hold, with roughly 45 left. County commission chairman Dianne Novak is working with the city to obtain a grant for the $25,000 insurance deductable.
The city is in need of a new truck as well, which should be a 3/4-ton, Warner said.
“Not a ½-ton again, they don’t seem to stand up to what we put them through,” she said. “And definitely not one of those little S-10s.”
Gayle said he would search on Purple Wave Auction and suggested the council members do the same.
Toward the end of the meeting, Gayle expressed the need for a 10-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. Robinson was excluded from the session, despite being city clerk.
When the council meeting resumed, no decision was reached and the details from the session were not disclosed.
Not all community members were satisfied with the reason given for executive session.
“How could you say no, we’re not going to make a decision,” former mayor Jeanie Meirowsky said. “The council should have had that right, but I would have thought you wanted to know what you were going to talk about.”
Gayle conceded that it was a poor choice of words and that he did not technically have the power to propose executive session.
“I should have phrased that differently,” Gayle said. “I wasn’t anticipating any action, that’s what I should have said.”