After 15 years of violating the Sunshine Law, Florida Statute 286.011, at every turn the Council in the person of Willy Jefferson and Tonya Brown, actually voted to follow the law directly as it is written in the Government in the Sunshine Manual (GISM). I am blown away.
Almost makes me want to not file my legal suit but not completely. The Council needs a big lesson and me and my attorney are here to give it to them.
One of the ideas “floating around” is the imposition of a FIRE ASSESSMENT FEE on all of the 450 parcels of land in the town. We know that the town has 230 some odd users of the water and sewer system and it is believed but can’t be proven without asking Pam, a fool’s errand, what the exact number is. Of that 230 let’s say that 10 of them are absentee owners of unimproved or unoccupied property. But to make the math easier let’s say that there are 250 properties that use the sewer system.
That leaves 200 properties that pay little or no taxes at all yet if an empty lot caught fire from vandalism, fire spill over from another property or any other reason the property would still have fire department “protection”. This is a possible use of a community asset, the fire department, without a paying for the service.
Now a tax assessment, say raising taxes on the properties 10% wouldn’t cut it. 10% of zero is still zero. But a Fire Assessment on each property in town, yours, mine, the absent land owners, etc, would be fair to help pay for the fire protection each of use might possibly use.
I suggest an assessment of $100.00 per property per year. That would raise $45,000.00 for the fire department. Couple that with the $17,000 that the town gets, and now steals, for the Fire Department from the County Commission and you have $62,000.00 for the fire department budget, independent of the town’s general fund.
With that money we could hire a professional fire chief (not that Mr. Stith is not qualified) and an assistant for $45,000 and one Helper at $12,000 or $57,000.00 per year. That would leave us $5000 to fund the volunteers for going out on fires and being first responders.
The assessment makes sense ONLY if the Money hungry tax and spend Town Council can keep its hands off of the funds.
If they can’t then I am opposed to the idea. If the assessment can be structured to benefit the Fire Department and only the Fire Department then I am for the idea. Everybody pays their “FAIR SHARE” of the costs of a professional Fire Department. The purpose of the assessment, unlike the Sewer Tax, is not to boost the general fund, which the council squanders with abandon. But to IMPROVE the fire department. Joe Griffin
Howard McKire, Clewiston, Florida
Alan Hoover, Plessis NY
Doris Cooper, Lake Butler, Florida
Mike Johnson, Jasper, Florida
Charles Edwards, White Springs, Florida
I’ll tell you in a minute but first some history is in order. In the July 2014 Council meeting Pam is quoted as saying that the AVERAGE Sewer and Water Bill for the Town of White Springs was $44.45. This seemed ridiculously low to me since mine is over $85.00 and we use less than 3000 gallons a month of water. So, under Florida Statute 119, I asked for five bills that were lower than Pam’s average of $44.45. After a month of her bickering that she didn’t have to turn over the requested bills and 15, count them, 15 secondary 119 requests for the information with state statute, Government in the Sunshine Manual quotes, case law quotes and downright pleading she finally DID HER JOB and turned over the requested documents.
The five people listed above used less than, a lot less than, 1000 gallons minimum. In fact two of them used no water at all. And their water bills averaged, for the five of them the minimum of $66.62. Now to be fair to Pam, we must “back out” the garbage fee, of $21.13 giving us a balance of $45.49 per person for the five people listed above.
Please note that this figure, $45.49 is ABOVE what Pam says is the AVERAGE for all users. If the lowest user is higher than the average the average must be above $44.45. It is simple math and it, the statement on the minutes given to the Council, is a BOLD FACED LIE. But what would one expect? The town as a whole wouldn’t know and most importantly wouldn’t tell the truth even if they knew it.
And it took me 15 identical requests in a month to get this information. What a crock of bull hockey. You want to know why I file so many 119 requests. This is the classic reason. Joe Griffin
The purpose of the Woman’s Club is over and done with. In time it will become a total eyesore of the community.
And how does town management decide that you can recruit members of the Volunteer Fire Department when the town literally steals CONTIBUTIONS to the Fire Department for the General Fund. Wash my mouth out with soap but Andrew Greene is right. Joe Griffin
From the August 19th Budget Meeting:
Fire Department – The largest cut was in capital outlay because the entire fire department budget operated off it for the past few years. Now it is gone and there is no carry over like in the past. Bill would like to see an increase in membership for the department. Mayor Miller stated the contributions should be included in the budget as a revenue. Andrew explained why it should not be included in the budget, but the council disagreed.
I guess I just do not understand a Town that thinks so poorly of its Fire Department. The worse thing which happened was when the Town became involved with the Fire Department in the first place and that was to take money from them because they were short in the General Fund.
Does the Town not realize the importance of a strong Fire Department? How are we to get volunteers if the Town Council won’t do anything for its fire fighters? We need maintenance money for our fire trucks and payments to the firefighters who help protect us. The council and especially the Mayor has spent money recklessly for their personal prestige and personal gain. What on earth are you thinking? Plus the town receives $17,000 a year from Hamilton County for our fire suppression services. What do you use that for councilpersons?
I thought it was bad when the Mayor bickered about $80 to pay our firefighter. I couldn’t believe she was so “blonde” that she did not understand. But I believe she understood well. While our Fire Department did what they had to keep our rating so that all of us did not have to pay a couple of hundred bucks a month more on insurance, we have a council that has no understanding of its true importance.
Any additional money which is made by the Fire Department should stay in a special fund for the fire department. We would be happy to contribute in many ways to help the fire department as would others in this town. But I’ll be damned if I would help the greedy officials of the town with any money or assistance. We love our fire department and it saddens us that the Town officials are officially thieves.
I have never been as angry at our stupid council members as I am today. You have true heroes who are willing to save our lives and protect our property and you don’t allow them to keep contributions to have other volunteers by helping them with schooling and uniforms.
You, our council members, are not only dimwitted about what is necessary in our small town but are unbelievably ignorant of how a town should be run. Yes, Mayor, spend our citizens money on FLOW so you can get your photo ops but to help build our fire department, you obviously couldn’t give a damn. I think you are really sad and now I believe Madame Mayor, what others have told me. Your biggest job in life was to be an Administrative Assistant, where most of us had valued jobs such as officers of companies, managers and high-end salespeople. You need to meet the needs of the people and at that you really do not give a damned.
You, Madame Mayor and Vice-Mayor McKenzie only care about who will kiss your butt next and frankly this is getting old. Do the town a favor and resign. Our town would better be run by the county. You have done nothing to help our town!
First the good news. William Lawrence, the town manager, proposed a budget that is $250,000 less than last year’s budget. Now the bad news. What that means is that we, as a town lead by a tax and spend Council (Democrats all) wasted a quarter of a million dollars last year, money that wasn’t needed to be spent. But the “spend happy” Mayor and Vice Mayor coupled with the “go along get along” rest of the Council allowed it to happen. And this year, the Council could have left the increase in last year’s budget and LOWERED the sewer bills. But NO, the Sewer rate stays higher than the average family can afford. So much for looking out for the citizens.
And lest we forget, this is not the first time a quarter of a million dollars has been wasted by this Mayor and Vice Mayor. See the sidewalk to nowhere and the park that no one uses. AND then the amphitheater project, another quarter of a million dollar boondoggle, that didn’t do anything for the town. But the voters have allegedly spoken and this is what we get. Shame on us. Some of us have tried only to have the election stole right out from underneath the nose of the citizens. Joe Griffin….
He’s missed two council meetings this month and hasn’t attended any. If I were a betting man I’d think that he was rethinking his role in the Town of White Springs government. What he doesn’t need, as a practicing attorney, is a lawsuit, Federal or State, naming him as a member of a Council that has violated without remorse citizens’ civil rights. Of course, I may be wrong. Only time will tell. Joe Griffin