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Lake City News

City Councilman Todd Sampson Wanted To Plan for the Future – City Manager Dyal and Councilman Jernigan Took Exception

Councilman Ricky Jernigan with headline:  City Councilman Todd Sampson Wanted To Plan for the Future – City Manager Dyal and Councilman Jernigan Took Exception

LAKE CITY, FL – Monday’s City Council meeting had a previously added agenda item for the Council to discuss co-locating Growth Management and Building related employees in the newly County purchased Lake City Reporter building after renovations are completed.


In 2018, the County 5 borrowed $10 mil for a new municipal complex and slid it over to fund the new County jail after it received the loan. Homeless then and homeless now, it is not clear if the money shift was planned all along.

In October 2019, the City and County met to discuss issues of mutual interest. The evening’s hot topic was the shared use of a new downtown municipal center – City Hall. Then Commissioner Nash spoke in favor of the project.

On November 13, 2019, then-City Manager Joe Helfenberger submitted a plan to use some of the vacant Lake Shore Hospital Authority property for a new municipal complex.

In December 2019, City Council authorized the issuance of a sales tax revenue and refunding bond for $9.5 mil, $4,000,000.00 for a new City Hall, and $1.7 mil for an unneeded West Side Fire Station.

The City canceled the new City Hall and repurposed the bond without first securing the permission of the lending financial institutions.

At the beginning of this year, the County bought the Lake City Reporter Building and dedicated what appears to be about $1.8 mil for the purchase and remodeling.

The County is planning to move its building department into the building. Mr. Sampson thought it would be a good idea to discuss moving the City building-related employees into the building.

Monday Night

Councilman Sampson introduced his agenda item: “I’m proposing that we locate our growth management and building officials, as well as the employees related to tap and impact fees (into the new County building), so you could go one place… and get your answers right there, instead of having to run back and forth to different buildings.”

Mr. Sampson said, “We should at least entertain a discussion with them [County].”

Councilman Hill asked, “What’s it gonna cost to do that?”

Mayor Witt asked the City Attorney if that could be discussed further.

City Attorney Kennon said it could be discussed, and he "understood it would be 6 to 8 months before the building was renovated.”

Councilman Jernigan Weighed In
Referred to Councilman Sampson Using the Jim Crow “Mr.”

Councilman Jernigan addressed the Council: “I understand Mr. Todd's [City Councilman Todd Sampson] recommendation or suggestion or whatever. However, Mr. Dyal is sittin' here, and we got the assistant city manager here. I think those are the people that needs to come in and make those decisions for us and let us know exactly what they come up with… I'm not in favor of anyone just sittin' up here talkin' about it, but Dyal. What do you think about that, Mr. Dyal?”

City Manager Dyal responded, “Well, I'm glad somebody asked my opinion, to be honest with you… this issue here, Mr. Jernigan, has been discussed. I have discussed this as early as Friday with the County manager. There's really no sense in me bringin' it up now because we're almost a year out…”

"I think the problem is, we’re either gonna have an administrations, myself and Mr. Johnson, that oversees the employees, or we're gonna have a Council or Council member that is dictating administrative functions. Now, we can either separate them or combine them, but I would ask for guidance tonight on what we're doin'. Are we gonna have a Council that dictates policy, so the administration will be taken out, or we gonna have Council members that are conducting City business with County officials, and not including administration.”

Mr. Dyal continued, “Those are kinda the questions I would like to ask for direction. I can't, and Mr. Johnson can't fully do our jobs if we are not even aware of side conversations and things that are goin' on.”

“This should have never even been on the agenda to start with. It's too far out. There's a lot of questions that need to be answered by me and Mr. Kraus. And then we bring the information back to this Council to make a full decision on what you all want to do, as a body, not as what one or two individuals think should happen… That's the way it's supposed to be done.”

Councilman Jernigan concluded, “I really appreciate that. And that's the way it should be… I totally agree with you. OK. Just keep that in mind.”

Councilwoman Chevella Young said she was “kinda confused with all that I’m hearing.” Ms. Young added, “I would like to hear all of the details."


The Council agreed that Mr. Sampson’s proposal was worth a look and voted (5-0) to have City Manager Dyal and County Manager Kraus explore the situation and have Mr. Dyal bring something back to the Council.

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