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W - Byran Williams Scott JamisonL-R: Vice Mayor Scott Jamison and Commissioner Byran Williams

HIGH SPRINGS – The Nov. 20, 2012 High Springs City Commission meeting was one of change. Byran Williams was sworn in as commissioner after defeating his opponent Pat Rush in the Nov. 6, 2012 election. Commissioner Scott Jamison ran unopposed and was sworn in as well. And a new mayor and vice mayor were elected by their colleagues.

Commissioner Scott Jamison thanked everyone for their help and support, as did Williams. Williams also singled out his campaign manager, Ron Wilson, and his wife for their support, along with his family and friends and called for everyone to work together for the good of the City of High Springs.

As the floor was opened for nominations for Mayor and Vice-Mayor, Commissioner Bob Barnas nominated Commissioner Sue Weller for mayor. Following a unanimous vote for Weller, she continued the meeting by accepting nominations for vice-mayor. Commissioner Williams nominated Jamison. As no other nominations were made, Jamison assumed the vice-mayor position. Seating was rearranged and Mayor Weller began her meeting by thanking outgoing Mayor Dean Davis for his service to the City.

Moving forward Weller suggested the commission review goals identified by the previous commission and begin to work on the goals they had in common. She also asked for an atmosphere of civility both in and out of the commission chambers. She asked that her fellow commissioners “set aside any animosity” they might have in order to “move the City forward.”

Formalities complete, the 2012-2013 City Commission began by tackling the unfinished business portion of the agenda.

City attorney representative Sondra Randon reported on the status of the U.S. Department of Labor settlement regarding the City’s past compensation practices. Randon explained City Manager Lee Vincent authorized her firm to hire outside counsel to review the City’s wage and overtime program. Ray Valasquez, a wage and overtime specialist with Ford & Harrison, is currently investigating the City’s procedures and will provide an opinion letter within the next month or two regarding the City’s compliance with Department of Labor standards.

This action was taken in response to a Department of Labor investigator who approached City Manager Vincent to discuss settlement options. Prior to discussing those options, City Attorney Scott Walker wanted to make sure the City had looked into the issue as completely as possible before offering any settlement suggestions to the City Commission. “There is always a potential for a liability for the City,” explained Randon. Currently, there is no formal action against the City by the Department of Labor. Discussion with the federal agency is an outgrowth of a complaint filed by former City employee Christian Popoli.

Fire Chief Bruce Gillingham is coordinating the Pocket Park improvement plan with City engineers Chen Moore. Gillingham is waiting for final approval from USDA to complete the project and reported that if everything goes as planned, he anticipates completion “just after the first of the year.”

New Business

A Christmas Party for all City employees received commission approval and will be allowed to use the renovated school house building. The proposed date was set for Dec. 14, at 5 or 5:30 p.m. The event will be hosted by Citizens for a Better High Springs. Entertainment will be provided in addition to a festive buffet, which will be prepared off site and brought to the school building.

Commissioners formally authorized Mayor Sue Weller, Vice-Mayor Scott Jamison and City Clerk Jenny Parham to sign checks and investment documents in compliance with Section 2-97 of the High Springs Code of Ordinances. Once a new city manager is onboard, the commission with also authorize him as a recognized signer.

Board Vacancies/Appointments

Commissioners announced two vacancies to the Plan Board, which will be advertised by City Clerk Jenny Parham in the near future. Two available positions on the Housing Needs and Improvement Committee were filled by David Beckerman and Richard Doeherty as the alternate. Stephen Morgan and John Doerr were appointed to the Code Enforcement Board. The Tree Board had one vacancy for a three-year-term, which was filled by Carol Doeherty, and a second vacancy to complete the remainder of a one-year term expiring in 2013, which was filled by Donald Branson. Ross Ambrose was reappointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

The pending contract with Edwin Booth for the city manager position was tabled to the Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 commission meeting.

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