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County deadlocks 2-2 on contract

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Lack of fifth commissioner prevents action

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

The Levy County Commission operating with three elected commissioners, two suspended commissioners, one interim commissioner and a vacancy in an interim commission seat hit the wall with a tie vote that could not be broken Tuesday.

 

The vote came during the regular meeting where Tax Collector Linda Fugate and County Judge Joe Smith asked the commission to terminate its contract for the Courthouse Space Study with Clemons Rutherford Associates of Tallahassee.

Fugate and Smith said the firm has been unresponsive to the Constitutional and Court Facility Committee and Court Administrator Jan Chesser and it’s work is not needed as the county is years away from building on a proposed 21-acre site near the sheriff’s office.

In an exchange that grew heated at one point, Smith told the board,” We got this proposal and it was less than acceptable.”

Smith was referring to a spiral bound book about the space needs for the county produced by Clemons Rutherford.

Fugate added that when the space study was done by the firm no one contacted her to ask about what her office needed and did not visit her office.

County Coordinator Freddie Moody defended the firm saying it did do a site visit to the courthouse.

“We need to start from square one on what we need and expect,” Smith said, noting that at the time the study was done the 21-acre site had not been purchased and was not considered in the study. “We have paid them for what we have been given.”

Commission Chair Nancy Bell said the firm has not attended the committee’s meetings and said she had personally called the head of the firm and invited him to a meeting and had a CD with a recording of a prior meeting where there were complaints about the services and the contract so he could be aware of what was discussed.

“I specifically invited him,” she said. “He wanted to meet with me separately but I would not because that would be out of the realm of the Sunshine (law).”

After about an hour’s discussion, Commissioner Marsha Drew made a motion to end the contract that failed because it was not seconded.

Commissioner Danny Stevens moved to send a letter to the firm directing them to meet with the committee or the contract would be terminated. Commissioner Lilly Rooks seconded it.

But the motion failed on a 2-2 vote with Bell and Drew dissenting.