Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.

County Commission News

County Manager to present annual Report Ellisville Boondoggle – $120,000 subsidy 

Thursday night, Columbia County's long time County Manager, Dale Williams, is scheduled to present his annual report, as required by the County Charter. For years, with the stamp of approval of the County Commission, this provision of the Charter was just ignored and there were no annual reports.

For awhile there was only an oral report. When asked, CM Williams said, "It doesn't say it has to be written."  After your reporter explained that an annual report is something written, the county manager began to submit a written annual report.

The Columbia County Annual Report is one of the most poorly executed reports, financial or otherwise, in Florida.

Looking at the report it is impossible to tell the difference between an update and a recommendation from an earlier year. The Observer has annotated these for clarity. It was not easy.

Related story:
Ellisville Utility Hearing
More County slight of hand

The County Manager explains a $2,250,000 reduction from 2008-09 and never shows the details of those reductions or explains how they came about.

The Financial Review of 2008-09 doesn't seem to jive with any numbers from that year.

In his 2010-11 discussion of "Budget Issues" CM Williams seemed to make a try at presenting worthwhile numbers, but again falls short.

Ellisville Boondoggle - $120,000 subsidy
Time for another Good Old Boy do-over

The County Manager does point out that the Ellisville Utility Boondoggle indicates a preliminary county wide subsidy of $120,000. It would appear, if this is like everything else that has gone on at Ellisville, this is just the tip of the iceberg. (This is annotated with a double red flag and is on page 6 in your pdf viewer. The county has not numbered the pages).

CM Williams also pointed out the final utility rates and the connection ordinance for Ellisville had not been adopted.

This is another half right statement for Florida's most untrustworthy and slippery County Commission.

On July 20th, the County held a public hearing to adopt the connection and utility rate ordinances.

There was much discussion and the Board approved both ordinances.

Unfortunately, the utility rate ordinance left out the residential water rates and they now have to do it over. This was discovered by the Observer the day following the public hearing.

It also appears that the correct ordinance was not available for public inspection ten days before the public hearing, which is required by law and nothing new in the helter-skelter world of the Columbia County Commission

The new rate ordinance hearing is scheduled for August 19th.

What do other counties do?

Gadsden County was Florida's 2005 Rural County of the Year and has a similarly sized budget. Their annual report, which was produced on February 25, 2010, can be found here. (If you have dial up go here for a sample page). The differences do not require any explanation.

Our neighboring county, Alachua, does award winning financial work. Their Citizens Annual Report, which is similar to what should be expected from CM Dale Williams, speaks for itself.

The County Commission has allowed fast and loose economics for years.

 The County Manager's sophomoric annual report is another classic example of the short changing of the working families of Columbia County by a "good old boy" County Commission that does not demand excellence or comprehensive financial reporting by members of a county staff, some of which are certainly capable of performing at higher levels. 

This is more business as usual by the Columbia County Commission.

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