by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
Review can still be done
The City Council Finance committee voted not to look at interlocal agreements with the Town of Baldwin, and the Cities of Jacksonville, Atlantic and Neptune Beaches for cost-saving measures.
City Council member Reginald Brown sponsored Resolution 2010-404 to have the Council Auditor, with the assistance of the Office of General Counsel and the Council Research Division, to analyze, report and make recommendations about the City’s Interlocal Agreement with Baldwin and the Beaches cities by Sept. 14, the first City Council meeting in September.
The Council Finance Committee discussed whether the resolution was necessary.
“I don’t think we need to send this political message,” said Council committee member Jack Webb.
“We don’t need to have a resolution to achieve this. If any one of the Council members has a question about the interlocal agreements, we can have the council auditor look into it. It’s just a normal part of doing business.”
The agreements have been in place since 1981 and they establish which services each jurisdiction will provide to its own citizens as “municipal” services, and what services the City of Jacksonville will provide to all citizens as “county” services, according to the resolution.
For example, the Town of Baldwin and the Beaches cities have their own Public Works Departments, so they can maintain their own roads. Also, the Beaches cities supply their own police departments.
Committee member John Crescimbeni recalled the negotiations when he first served in the Council from 1991-1999 and was hesitant to undertake the process again.
“I’m a little bit worried about opening that box again,” said Crescimbeni. “I was around for this in the ‘90s and I don’t think the City came out whole.”
Committee Vice Chair Bill Bishop didn’t see anything wrong with evaluating the city’s methods of conducting business.
“I support this resolution,” said Bishop. “These agreements were developed a generation ago and sometimes it’s good to review them to see if they are in the best interest of both parties.”
Bishop asked both City Council Auditor Kirk Sherman and attorney Peggy Sidman from the Office of General Counsel if there would be a problem reviewing the agreements.
“I believe they should be looked at,” said Sherman.
“I don’t think there would be a legal problem with reviewing the agreements,” said Sidman.
Sherry Hall, policy director for the Mayor’s Office, was also asked to speak on behalf of the office regarding the resolution.
“After discussing the matter with Steve Rohan and Cindy Laquidara, they informed us that there could be some legal problems as a result of the resolution,” said Hall. “The Mayor’s Office does not support the resolution.”
Committee member Clay Yarborough asked for further explanation from Sidman after recognizing the conflicting statements from Sidman and Hall.
“I would defer to the recently appointed General Counsel Cindy Laquidara,” said Sidman, “but, with the facts presented, I don’t see a problem with reviewing the agreements.”
After discussion, Bishop still supported the resolution and wanted the agreements reviewed.
“If this resolution fails, consider this my notice to do just this,” said Bishop to Council Auditor Kirk Sherman.
The Committee voted 6-3 against the resolution, with Committee members Ray Holt, Johnny Gaffney and Bishop voting in favor of recommending the resolution to the full City Council.