Feb 4th the Commission meeting was called to order. Minutes of the last meeting on the subject of Chief McKinstry and the Town Manager were handed out. They were not accurate. The first two things that I noticed were that when the Commissioners voted not to review the Town Charter, Kussard said “if it is not broke don’t fix it!” (That was left out!) The Charter has not been reviewed in 40 years! Also left out of the minutes of the last meeting was when Councilman Dan Vincent made a motion to ask for Town Managers resignation. Kolgaard said “Go for it!” (That was left out!)
Later I ask Holden who approves the minutes of the meetings. He said Kris Kolgaard. At the first meeting because of the arguing back and forth, Councilman Tony Holden asked for a special meeting to discuss the Town Manager and the forcing out of the Chief McKinstry!
The special meeting was called to look at the Town Manager’s Job performance and the possible re-hiring of Chief McKinstry.
The meeting started civil. The Councilmen and Councilwoman were each asked if they had anything to say.
Tony Holden started by accusing the Town Manager of hiding payroll facts by lumping the figures together, which did not reflect how much each person’s salary was. Tony also accused the Council of not considering his suggestion to build a building three years ago when building cost were much lower. The Town would have saved $750,000. Mayor Richardson debated him back and forth and after a few minutes they got the subject back on track about Kolgaard and Chief McKintsry, saying the building was old business. Holden said he had people coming to him asking him to take Chief McKinstry side, which he did. Mayor Richardson said the Town Charter says the final say is the Town Manager’s decision. Holden also complained the Commissioners were proud that they finished the Budget review in an hour and a half. Holden said they bundled things together and did not discuss each item for review and some things were not visible. He said they should have taken 5 hours as usual and do a thorough job for a whole year’s worth of spending. Near the end Councilman Holden said to Paul Hannen “Bring up the review of the Town Charter again and I’ll vote for the review!”
Ruth Kussard had the floor. She said she stands by the Town Manager and that she is doing a good job. She said she was shocked at the display put on by some of the Council. In another comment at the first and second meeting, she said she had called around and most towns were structured the way they were, except Wildwood.
Paul Hannon was next, he said I have two words “Town Charter”. He wants to review the Town Charter. It has not been reviewed in 40 years and many things have changed. He stopped, there! Pub note: 40 years ago Lady Lake was being advertised by Triple AAA as a speed Trap. That was a big part of their revenue.
Mayor Richardson stood by the Town Manager saying it is in accordance with the Town Charter that the Town Manager hires and fires the Police Officers and the Chief!. The Mayor furnished other documents proving Kogaard was doing a good job. The papers were being waved around but I did not read, nor look at any of them.
Dan Vincent got the floor, he expressed his feelings about wanting to bring back the Chief and asked for Kolgaard’s resignation. They brought it to a vote and it was three to two to continue her in her position. Once that was decided Mayor Richardson quoted the Town Charter again. The Town Charter says “the Town Manager has the right to hire and fire the Chief of Police” so there was no reason to discuss the Chief’s job any further.
Phil Mathias, resident, talked about the people who wanted the Chief back and he said the reason the Town had money was because of the tax money coming from the residents in The Villages that are in the Lady Lake city limits. Mathias accused Kolgaard of favoring her supervisors at raise time, then hiding it in the budget by bundling payroll together. During raise time the Police Officers were not getting the same consideration, so they were leaving for more money elsewhere. Kolgaard had blamed the officers’ leaving on the Chief.
Betty Salas got up and wanted to set the record straight. Ms Salas says Belleview’s Police Chief answers to the Mayor and so does Wildwood. So that makes two towns bordering the Villages/Lady Lake that are doing it different.
Publishers note: I have a different opinion than some of the Councilman and Councilwoman. It sounds like they don’t want to review the Town Charter. What is in it that they don’t want to address or don’t want others to see? If in fact the Town Charter has not been addressed in 40 years it is overdue by about twenty years. Let’s look at what has changed. “THE ENTIRE TOWN HAS CHANGED!” The Town has grown by 20 times more residents than they had back then. Which means it needs a larger police force because they have a lot more people to protect. With that said, they need the best paid police force and the best Chief that Villages tax money can buy! Councilman Dan Vincent said “We don’t need two police Chiefs,” meaning he did not want the Town Manager meddling in Police Business. With that kind of responsibility the Chief needs to be on equal ground with the Town Manager. I also think the Council or at least three members, are hiding behind the Town Charter when residents complain. Example when a resident complains about the Town Manager and or the Chief, the Mayor says “It’s the Town Charter!” Well I say “Change the Damn Thing!” Fix it and yes it is broken. The money to protect the residents in the Villages and in Lady Lake should come first, then roads, infrastructure, hospital, town and park beautification or what ever. I think that the money is being allocated wrong and the two Councilmen screaming about it should be heard. I heard several Councilmen state: when I was in business we did this. Things do change over the years. That was then and this is now. Change with the times or get run over by progress. I agree to disagree!
What do you think? firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell them what you think? Make sure you tell me what you think, I’ll print it!
Mayor Jim Richardson
Councilwoman Ruth Kussard
Councilman Tony Holden
Councilman Paul Hannon
Councilman Dan Vincent