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Animal control ordinance tabled

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Public Works director gets interim raise

By Lou Elliott Jones

 The Cedar Key City Commission put off discussion of revisions to its animal ordinance until its next meeting, but one thing they did not delay in Tuesday’s meeting was a temporary pay raise for Public Works director Josh Wilson.

                  City Attorney David Coffey asked that the proposed revision to the city’s animal control ordinance be pulled from Tuesday’s agenda after a council member raised questions of liability. Coffey said he needed time to do some research and return with the revised ordinance at the next meeting.

                  The ordinance revisions were debated at the last meeting where some residents complained about a dog they felt was aggressive.

                  The matter of the pay increase generated the most discussion as Commissioner Gene Hodges said, “I for one think this should be done in the budget.”

                  “I see Commissioner Hodges point, but are you willing to discuss some form of an interim increase?” Commissioner Scott Dennison asked.

                  Dennison justified the request saying the commission had asked Wilson to take on extra duties . “He has done that and he has done a good job.”

                  Dennison suggested a $1,500 interim increase until the end of the current budget year on Oct. 1. “And we just not do the full $35,000 (per year) salary at this time?”

                  “Just because we have doesn’t mean you have to spend it,” Hodges shot back.

                  Twice during the discussion, Hodges objected to Dennision commenting while he had the floor.

                  Commissioner Heath Davis said the amount begin sought for Wilson, $5,500, is available in the budget. “I feel very comfortable with it,” he said.

                  The commission compromised, with a 4-1 vote and Hodges dissenting, to implement a pay increase with the next pay period that would give Wilson the equivalent of a $35,000 annual salary. But the pay increase is only for the current year.

                  “Like Commissioner Hodges says, the Legislature giveth and the Legislature takes away,” Mayor Sue Colson told Wilson.

                  During a discussion on emergency management matters Police Chief Virgil Sandelin asked residents to be sure they get a re-entry pass application in now. He said last year’s pass is not good for re-entry.

                  “The little plastic placard like they had last year won’t work,” Sandelin said. Referring to the new “zone” system for re-entry, Sandelin said,” We’re adamant about the zone system.

                  “If you’re caught outside your zone you will be off the island and you will not be coming back in.”

                  Commissioner Pat O’Neil also asked for volunteers to be trained to work in the recovery hase after a storm.

                  “On returning to the island I would encourage people to help with the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) paperwork, and we can move you to the head of the line,” O’Neil said.

                  O’Neil said obtaining FEMA help is “an information battle,” and the quicker the information gets in and in a proper form, the better the chance of getting FEMA aid.

                  In other business the commission heard a presentation on a new Youth Committee that is looking into providing activities and a gathering place for the city’s young people.

                  Bill Delano is heading up the effort and the commission appointed Commissioner Gene Hodges to serve on the advisory committee.

                  The commission also decided to extend it’s summer program by a week and to look into holding that week’s activities in the community canter and the city park because the school gym will be unavailable that week. The commission also approved hiring Sue Polk as summer program director and Theresa Hancock as assistant director.