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HIGH SPRINGS – In what may be a series of legal missteps, the High Springs City Commission passed an ordinance at the July 31 meeting, and then quickly rescinded the motion and passed a subsequent one placing a charter amendment on the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would limit the Commission’s borrowing authority to $1 million.

During the July 31 public hearing, the Commission initially passed Ordinance 2012-13, proposing a charter amendment to limit the borrowing authority to $2 million, although the public hearing notice had been advertised with a $1 million limit.  After closing out the public hearing, the Commission then voted to change the proposed charter amendment again to reduce the “municipal borrowing” authority amount from $2 million to $1 million.

That measure passed 3-2 with Commissioners Sue Weller and Scott Jamison opposing.  Prior to the re-vote, former High Springs City Attorney Thomas Depeter informed the commission that passing the reconsideration violated the law, indicating that the ordinance would have to be advertised again to give notice to the public and that a subsequent public hearing would be necessary.

The commission voted 3-2, with Commissioners Scott Jamison and Sue Weller opposing and Mayor Dean Davis, Vice Mayor Bob Barnas and Commissioner Linda Gestrin in favor, to suspend the rules and take up the matter immediately.

“It has been brought to my attention that we may also have a procedural issue with the passing of ordinance 2012-13 by its amendment,” City Attorney Ray Ivey said later in the meeting regarding the amended ordinance.

He stated if any substantial change was made to an ordinance then the process must start anew and be advertised again. According to Ivey, the increase from $1 million to $2 million could be considered a substantial change.

“My recommendation, rather than analyze it and second guess ourselves, is just redo it,” Ivey said. “You start the process over.”

In order to have adequate time to get the ordinance on the ballot for the November election, the ordinance had to be acted upon at the July 31 meeting. However, Ivey said that returning to the original ordinance still violated the law.

Despite the warning, Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas made a motion to reconsider the ordinance and return it to its advertised language. With the rules suspended, the motion passed.

In November, barring any injunctions against the ordinance, High Springs residents will have an opportunity to vote on whether or not to limit the Commission’s borrowing authority to $1 million or less.

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Email awilliamson@alachuatoday.com

HIGH SPRINGS – In what may be a series of legal missteps, the High Springs City Commission passed an ordinance at the July 31 meeting, and then quickly rescinded the motion and passed a subsequent one placing a charter amendment on the November ballot that, if approved by voters, would limit the Commission’s borrowing authority to $1 million.

During the July 31 public hearing, the Commission initially passed Ordinance 2012-13, proposing a charter amendment to limit the borrowing authority to $2 million, although the public hearing notice had been advertised with a $1 million limit.  After closing out the public hearing, the Commission then voted to change the proposed charter amendment again to reduce the “municipal borrowing” authority amount from $2 million to $1 million.

That measure passed 3-2 with Commissioners Sue Weller and Scott Jamison opposing.  Prior to the re-vote, former High Springs City Attorney Thomas Depeter informed the commission that passing the reconsideration violated the law, indicating that the ordinance would have to be advertised again to give notice to the public and that a subsequent public hearing would be necessary.

The commission voted 3-2, with Commissioners Scott Jamison and Sue Weller opposing and Mayor Dean Davis, Vice Mayor Bob Barnas and Commissioner Linda Gestrin in favor, to suspend the rules and take up the matter immediately.

“It has been brought to my attention that we may also have a procedural issue with the passing of ordinance 2012-13 by its amendment,” City Attorney Ray Ivey said later in the meeting regarding the amended ordinance.

He stated if any substantial change was made to an ordinance then the process must start anew and be advertised again. According to Ivey, the increase from $1 million to $2 million could be considered a substantial change.

“My recommendation, rather than analyze it and second guess ourselves, is just redo it,” Ivey said. “You start the process over.”

In order to have adequate time to get the ordinance on the ballot for the November election, the ordinance had to be acted upon at the July 31 meeting. However, Ivey said that returning to the original ordinance still violated the law.

Despite the warning, Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas made a motion to reconsider the ordinance and return it to its advertised language. With the rules suspended, the motion passed.

In November, barring any injunctions against the ordinance, High Springs residents will have an opportunity to vote on whether or not to limit the Commission’s borrowing authority to $1 million or less.

#     #     #

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