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The County 5: A $2,000,000 Technicality From Columbia County's Spendthrift Royal Board

Posted September 5, 2014  07:40 am

Columbia County 5COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night, the over $2,000,000 in improvements to the Southside Sports Complex once again did not include any mention of the “Field of Dreams,” the handicapped accessible field for those not as lucky as The County 5, Columbia County’s royalty packed spendthrift County Commission. The emergency communications system upgrade report was another whitewash by County management. As usual, and in clear disregard of the intent of SB50, the Florida law which is supposed to allow public comment, Commissioner Nash made the motions to approve over $2,000,000 of budget amendments without any public comment.

Southside Sports Complex: public comment not wanted

Read more about Columbia County's infamous County 5.

The $2,000,000 plus Southside Sports Complex budget amendment was not listed on the agenda available to the public at the meeting. It was on a PowerPoint presentation which was only completed hours before the meeting.

The spirit of recently passed Florida Bill SB50, which allows public comment on items coming before a public body, was clearly violated, as any member of the public who picked up an agenda on the way into the meeting would have had no idea of any details regarding what The County 5 were about to approve.

When it came to make the motion to approve the unlisted Southside budget amendment, which was buried in over 100 pages of unavailable supporting documentation, Commissioner Nash made the motion to finance over $2,000,000 of Sports Complex improvements. His motion was incomprehensible to the clerk, who needed clarification.

Dueling Amounts: $2,052,557 or $2,142,557, "a technicality"

The 5 approved a budget amendment for $2,052,557. This was the amount on the PowerPoint.

The budget amendment, which was buried in a stack of unavailable documentation, was for $2,142,557. The 5, along with County Management, refuse to have a complete book of agenda material available to the public at its meetings.

After the meeting, Commissioner Nash called the fact that neither the budget amendment number, nor the amount was available at the meeting on the agenda, “a technicality.”

Recently reelected Commissioner Rusty DePratter held up a stack of papers and said that it was available for a week. He did not explain how after one week The 5 couldn’t get the amount right.

Another Buried Budget Amendment: Emergency Communications

The agenda also called for the County Safety Manager, David Kraus, to make a presentation. The agenda put it this way: “(1) P25 Update and Recommendation.”

There was not a sentence or phrase of explanation. There also was no budget amendment listed.

The “P25” is the acronym for a new communications system.

Safety Manager Kraus’s presentation whitewashed the lack of maintenance and total disrepair that for years characterized emergency 911 and fire/police communications: communication towers were falling apart and ready to fall down and the radio system was being held together by “bubble gum and spit.”

Other than an occasional instance here and there, and some sanctimonious preaching by long time commissioner, Ronald Williams, Sheriff Hunter, who has been the invisible force behind the 911 call center and communications, was silent, as was everyone else in public.

The former 911 communications director quit because of the horrendous condition of the equipment.

When your reporter pointed out that there was no public comment on the unlisted budget amendment, Commissioner Bailey said it was there. It wasn’t.

When your reporter pointed out that a group of residents pointed out the lack of the amendment, Chairman Williams warned of imminent removal from the meeting if it was pointed out again.

The Board allowed no comment on the skewed, one-sided, and incomplete presentation of the County’s 911/communications system.

Commissioner Nash, a politician who two years ago ran on a platform of allowing the public to be heard, also called the lack of this budget amendment a “technicality.”

None of the other of The 5 wanted to hear from the public.

Commissioner Nash made the motion to approve the unlisted budget amendment.

Bucket Economics

This $64,555 budget amendment, as well as the $2,052,557, were from funds that were not budgeted, and fell into the Columbia County bucket theory of economics, which puts tax dollars in various funds to be transferred out at will, eliminating the need for any kind of responsible financing of capital improvements.


The over $2,000,000 in improvements to the Southside Sports Complex once again did not include any mention of the “Field of Dreams,” the handicapped accessible field for those not as lucky as The County 5, Columbia County’s royalty packed County Commission, who recently cancelled a board meeting so they could all go to the beach.

The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Chairman Ronald Williams;
Commissioners Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Stephen Bailey; Scarlet Frisina

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