Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Columbia County News

Columbia County's Consent Agenda: A way to give raises to the favored with a never ending contract 

This calendar represents the billing practices by Donald Lee's John Colson. In dollars, $7,700, this is the substantiation accepted by Clerk of the Court's P DeWitt Cason and his Internal Auditor, Judy Lewis. Click here to enlarge.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Columbia County and Lake City workers haven't had a raise in years. Tonight, hidden away in the County Commission Consent agenda, is a proposed change in the contract between Donald F. Lee & Associates, Inc. of Lake City and Columbia County. This contract has been in effect since 1991. It expired in 1992.

Donald Lee is seeking raises for some its employees, swapping job titles with another, and creating a new position.

Donald Lee is proposing an 11.1% raise for its surveying crew.

Donald Lee is establishing a new position called CADD Technician at an hourly rate of $55 per hour or $114,400 per year.

There is a memo with tonight's agenda from somebody to the County Manager explaining why this is fair. The memo is undated and unsigned.

Donald Lee has eliminated the position of Survey Technician and replaced it with a Senior Technician at an increase of 44% over the old position.

Donald Lee has created a new position called Clerical at the rate of $35 per hour or $72,800 per year.

The County does not have any clerical positions that pay $35 dollars an hour.

P DeWitt Cason is supposed to be watching the ship

P DeWitt Cason is Columbia County's long time Clerk of the Courts. He maintains the ultimate responsibility for the finances of Columbia County and signs all checks. He has an internal auditor in the County offices, Judy Lewis, who has worked at the pleasure of the Clerk since 1990. Her job is to make sure things are done right. Her original job description has mysteriously disappeared from the Clerk's files.

Sometime after April of 2009, apparently unable to find Ms. Lewis's job description, somebody made up a new job description for Ms. Lewis. It is undated and its origin is undocumented.

One of her functions: auditing and processing of County Commission expenditures.

Lewis and Lee began at the same time

Ms. Lewis and Donald Lee both began in their respective capacities with the County at just about the same time around 1990.

John Colson, who refers to himself as the County Engineer, is the Vice President of Donald Lee.

Mr. Colson has refused to provide accurate and detailed billing to Columbia County, forever.

Clerk Cason and his Internal Auditor, Judy Lewis, have turned a blind eye to Donald Lee's billing practices, which are nothing more than documenting blocks of hours on a calendar.

Where are the savings?

For years, it appears that Mr. Colson, who claimed that he was the County Engineer, has done little more than subcontract out most of his engineering duties, a fact that long time County Manager Dale Williams verified upon the recent hiring of in house County Engineer, Chad Williams, when he said that the county would save the cost of subcontracting engineering work.

Chad Williams was reported to have done much of Mr. Colson's work before he was hired.

The County also claimed that it would save money by not having to pay for outside engineering services.

Over the past three years the County paid Donald Lee $282,710 or $94,236 per year for Mr. Colson's engineering services.

Chad Williams, the in house County Engineer, began with a starting salary of $93,000 a year plus benefits. His salary represented a 16% raise from what he claimed to be making as his own boss in the private sector. Once his benefits are factored in, it's not a savings at all.

Epilogue - The Consolation Prize

Also on the Consent Agenda, as part of the extension of the 1991 Donald Lee contract, is to continuing paying $111.00 an hour for outside engineering services. This time to include the newly hired Donald Lee Associate, engineer Bret Crews, who applied for the position of County Engineer and did not get it.

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

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.