Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Tri County/Florida News

Suwannee Valley Transit Authority (SVTA): Florida's Sunshine Laws - What's that?

Meeting Cancelled:

At 3:45 pm today, SVTA Operations Manager William Steele advised the Observer the meeting was cancelled. No reason was given.

SUWANNEE COUNTY, FL – The Suwannee Valley Transit Authority (SVTA) is up to its old tricks of playing cat and mouse with its meetings and locking down information. During the last SVTA meeting on March 26th, after it was determined that the Authority's financial spreadsheets were out of whack, the board voted to have a workshop tonight to review the SVTA's financial situation. Chairman of the SVTA, Columbia County Commissioner, Ronald Williams, gave the order to make sure the meeting was advertised. It wasn't.

"Make Sure You Advertise"

Chairman Williams told the SVTA staff, "You make sure you get it advertised in plenty of time -- two weeks before the meeting."

Commissioner Williams said this way the SVTA staff would have "plenty of time" to prepare for the meeting.

Commissioner Williams explained it this way, "It will give us about a month for them to work on what they wanna do."

After a brief discussion the meeting was scheduled for tonight, April 23rd at 6pm.

It was agreed that the meeting would be advertised in the legal notices of the local newspapers.

Sunshine Laws and Public Records Law: What's that?

At the conclusion of last month's meeting the Observer asked for a copy of the financial spreadsheet and the PowerPoint that was presented to the board.

Operations Manager William Steel said he would send the information along.

The next day the PowerPoint arrived without any of the financial information.

A brief phone call was made to Mr. Steele and he advised the Observer that Director Pra would have to approve the request for the spreadsheet before he sent it out.

This past Friday, April 20, almost a month later, the spreadsheet had still not arrived.

When your reporter inquired of Mr. Steele on Friday, he said Director Pra was very busy and hadn't had time to tell him to send it.

When the Observer asked Mr. Steele when the meeting was advertised he said, "It's a workshop, it doesn't have to be."


It appears that over time approximately $2 million has disappeared from the SVTA.

The history of unnoticed meetings and the lack of accurate and timely information continue unabated.

On Friday, the SVTA told Columbia County's Assistant to the County Manager that the next meeting of the SVTA board was scheduled for June.

Director Pra, who had oversight of the SVTA when she worked for the DOT, is continuing the sub rosa ways for which the Authority has become famous.

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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