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City has new mayor

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Commissioners disagree on staff contract renewals

By Kellie Parkin

Cedar Key commissioners selected Pat O’Neal as the new mayor Tuesday night at their regular monthly meeting.

When the floor was opened for mayoral nominations, commissioners Gene Hodges and Scott Dennison spoke at the same time. Hodges continued first, nominating Commissioner O’Neal. Dennison said he had no further nominations and motioned for the nominations to be closed.

A role call vote was taken and O’Neal was selected unanimously.

“I’m honored,” O’Neal said. “I’ll try to do the best I can. I’ll try to pay attention to my fellow commissioners.”

O’Neal said he’s going to continue some aspects Mayor Colson established, such as the Good News section of the public meetings.

“I think the ‘good news’ is a great idea – we need to hear about the good things that are happening,” O’Neal said. 

Colson said she would have liked to continue as mayor, but she accepts and supports the choice of her fellow decision makers. “I support the whole commission and the city,” Colson said after the meeting Tuesday night.

The commission voted unanimously to select Colson as the vice-mayor.

In addition to the annual selection of mayor, the commission also takes this time to go through the staff and committee appointments and determine if these selections should be re-appointed.

Police Chief Virgil Sandlin, City Clerk Frances Hodges and Fire Chief Robert Robinson were reappointed unanimously without discussion.

Commissioner Scott Dennison motioned that the City not renew the contract of Attorney David Coffey unless a ninety-day probation period was agreed to, during which a performance evaluation could be reviewed. “I’m disappointed in the work of the city attorney’s office,” Dennison said.

The rest of the commission did not agree with Dennison and the motion died for lack of a second. Coffey was reappointed as city attorney.

When Public Works Director Josh Wilson’s position came up for reappointment, Commissioner Dennison made the same motion for non-renewal unless a 90-day probation period was accepted. Dennison cited Wilson’s recent employee evaluation as reason.

The motion died for lack of a second. Commissioner Heath Davis motioned to renew Wilson’s contract and it passed 4-1.

Sue Colson said that when she did the employee evaluations this year, everyone had goals and areas to improve. “Everyone has goals to meet, including the Public Works Director,” Colson said. “Josh’s job description has required him to wear too many hats. He needs to prioritize and he knows that.

“We worked on areas of improvement, not effectiveness. The evaluations were not meant to be disciplinary.” In the past, the city’s personnel evaluations have been vague, Colson said. This year, new evaluations were implemented to give detailed, useful feedback, she said.