Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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City Manager Paul Dyal Cancels City/County Interlocal – Does Damage Control. Did Anyone Believe Him?

Lake City City Manager Paul Dyal with headline: City manager paul dyal on termination of City-County agreement: It was an accident. The facts say something else.
Photo: Columbia County Observer

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Controversial Lake City City Manager Paul Dyal appeared before the County 5 (Commission) last Thursday morning to do damage control after unilaterally canceling an interlocal agreement between the City and County without legal authority.


On February 7, 2023, Lake City and Columbia County entered into an interlocal agreement in which the County would act as the City’s building official.

The turmoil caused by the two-year search for city manager, a dysfunctional Mayor and City Council, and the questionable leadership abilities of the now permanent City Manager, Paul Dyal, does not have folks banging down the doors to be employed by Lake City.

With the economy rebounding and the exiting of its former city building official, the City was in trouble. Columbia County filled the gap by agreeing to have its building official also act as the City's building official.

This agreement enabled the City to do building inspections.

The agreement was open-ended. Either party could terminate the agreement, without cause, with 180 days prior notice.

On February 15, 2023, 3:39 PM, Assistant City Manager Dee Johnson sent a letter to County manager David Kraus advising him that the City was terminating the interlocal agreement effective August 14, 2023.

Assistant City Manager Johnson has no specifically assigned tasks and operates at the whim of City Manager Dyal.

Anyone familiar with Mr. Johnson knows he would not send a correspondence of such magnitude without being directed to do so.

Mr. Johnson's letter was emailed and copied to City Clerk Audrey Sikes, among others in the City and the County.

While Mr. Johnson copied the County Attorney, he did not copy the City Attorney.

The City Manager cannot unilaterally cancel a resolution approved by the City's governing body, the City Council.

City Clerk Audrey Sikes knew that and immediately emailed the City Attorney advising of the cancellation. Ms. Sikes wrote, "Dee has already sent this over to Mr. Kraus (see below). Wouldn't the process be for the City Council to vote to terminate and then do it via a resolution?"

The email chain is here. For Ms. Sikes email, see number 1.

Also not wasting any time was County manager David Kraus. At 6:19 PM on February 15, Mr. Kraus emailed Assistant City Manager Johnson and the city clerk, city manager, city manager's assistant, and others.

Mr. Kraus wrote, "I do have a question, upon termination of the contract, will you be taking over the building permits that are in mid-process? Or do you want to just cut off the County processing new permits?"

Mr. Kraus did not receive a response.

On February 16, the City Attorney emailed the City, email 5, pointing to an attached correspondence explaining to the City Manager that the interlocal can only be terminated by the City Council.

March 2, 2023, the County 5 Meeting

Commissioner Hollingsworth added the City letter terminating the agreement to the County’s agenda.

Your reporter, also a resident of the County, pointed out that the letter did not invalidate anything, that the City from here to Alaska is known to be a mess, that the City Manager assigned the task, and that a vote of the City Council can only terminate the interlocal.

City Manager Dyal Addressed the County 5

Mr. Dyal thanked the County 5 for inviting him to the microphone.

After insulting your reporter and being advised by chairman Ford to address the commission, Mr. Dyal said, "I want to thank you and appreciate, you know, everything that you all have done to help us during our time with the building inspections and stuff like that.”

“The letter was sent inadverdely [sic]. It was miscommunication by me that it did get sent.”

Mr. Dyal mentioned, "the item is on the Council meeting for Monday night [tonight] to discuss how we want to move forward."

Mr. Dyal repeated again and again that the letter was inadvertently sent. He said, “I did talk to David after the letter got sent to try to, 'cause I knew what was gonna happen. You get people like Stew that wanna get things blown out of proportion. It's just a missed thing that happened, and whatever happened.”

Mr. Dyal was looking for cover where there wasn’t any.

Your reporter did not put the City termination letter on the County agenda. Commissioner Hollingsworth did.

The record is clear that the termination letter to the County was not a mistake and something that the City Clerk picked up when she read the email canceling the interlocal.

According to County Manager David Kraus, neither Mr. Dyal nor Mr. Johnson ever notified the County that the letter was a mistake until City Manager Dyal announced it at the meeting.


After the March 2 meeting, your reporter approached the dais, where commissioners and staff sit, and asked, “Does anyone believe the letter was sent by mistake?”

The question was met by a bunch of rolling eyes.

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