Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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$225,000 Contract Approved by County 5 Without County Attorney Foreman's Review 

Joel Foreman (file)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Tonight's meeting of Columbia County's homeless county commission, or the County 5, once again had the County Manager failing to provide backup material to the public; an agenda with limited or no explanations on matters for approval; and a $225,000 contract on the consent agenda, which appeared without any dollar amount and was never reviewed or approved by the County's popularly elected County Attorney, Joel Foreman.

FL Statute

Florida statute requires the County Attorney to, among other things, "prepare all deeds, contracts, agreements and such other written instruments as shall be necessary from time to time to transact the business of Columbia County."

The agreement, buried on the evening's consent agenda, called for the County to provide Meridian Behavioral Health Services with $225,000 taxpayer dollars for 2017.

Meridian wrote the contract. Assistant County Manager Scott Ward added the contract to the consent agenda.

According to County Attorney Foreman's billing records, he generally spends approximately 4 hours reviewing, preparing, and attending each county commission meeting. This amount does not include the time he spends emailing, making phone calls, and meeting with the commissioners or the county management.

The Columbia County 5 from left to right: Commissioners Ronald Williams;
Rusty DePratter; Bucky Nash; Everett Phillips; Scarlet Frisina

When your reporter pointed out to The 5 and Mr. Foreman that the contract was never legally reviewed before it was approved by The 5, the board and Mr. Foreman were silent.

After the meeting your reporter asked Mr. Foreman why he didn't review the contract.

He said, "I only have a limited amount of time."

Mr. Foreman's total compensation package costs the County's taxpayers a minimum of $186,000 a year.

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