Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
At 6:00 pm on December 18, 2012, Sarah Pelican opened her first Regular Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) as newly elected mayor. New commissioners Ed Boner and Pat Gass joined Pelican, Commissioner Arlene Filkoff and Vice Mayor Charlie Corbett for the final FBCC scheduled meeting for 2012. The agenda was relatively light, and the meeting lasted less than an hour and a half.
Roughly half of the meeting was devoted to presentations. Mayor Pelican read a proclamation honoring city employee Michael S. McCullough upon his retirement following eleven years of service with the Parks Maintenance Department. He received a standing ovation from his coworkers and members of the audience.
Pelican also delivered a proclamation declaring December 21, 2012, as“National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day”. Accepting the proclamation were Ms. Robyn Andres, Vice-President of the Coalition of the Homeless for Nassau County, and Ms. Lisa Mohn, Director of the Northeast Florida Community Action Agency.
Lillie Russell, Records Coordinator for the FBCC City Clerk’s Office, was honored for achieving her Certified Municipal Clerk designation. Ms. Audrey Sikes, M.M.C., 2nd Vice President of the Florida Association of City Clerks and Ms. Donna Hardin, C.M.C., Northeast Director of the Florida Association of City Clerks, presented Ms. Russell with her certification and a lapel pin in the presence of her coworkers and her supervisor, City Clerk Mary Mercer. Mercer commented that Ms. Russell had a knack for finding documents to meet requests and that she (Mercer) was the envy of other municipal clerks for having Ms. Russell on her staff.
Mr. Jahan Babadi of Sun-Tel USA approached the FBCC with a preliminary proposal suggesting a partnership to provide free Internet service to downtown public spaces, back up for essential city services and more affordable Internet via television to underserved areas of the population and to those seeking a more affordable broadband service. Mr. Larry Williams of the Nassau County Economic Development Board had introduced Mr. Jahani, suggesting to the FBCC that adopting such a plan would uniquely position the city to take advantage of new technology affecting the delivery of education. Jahani stressed that he is looking for a partnership with the city to explore possibilities. The FBCC made no commitment.
Citizen Input: A luxury RV resort for the city?
Local resident Mr. Bob Allison approached the FBCC with an idea to bring more revenue to the city. He suggested that a park for Class A motorhomes would tap into an unserved market that travels the I-95 corridor. The Class A is the largest and most luxurious line of motorhomes, RVs with the living accommodations built on or as an integral part of a self-propelled motor vehicle. Allison believes that such a resort vehicle park would bring considerable revenues to the city golf course as well as local businesses. He distributed a handout for further consideration.
Resolutions Passed 5-0
The FBCC passed Resolutions 2012-198 and 2012-199 dealing with tree trimming and clearing, mitigation and permitting at the municipal airport to reduce aviation hazards. In response to a question from Vice Mayor Charlie Corbett, Andrew Holesko of Passero Associates affirmed that the city is only paying $32K of the $167K bill, thanks to an FAA grant. The city hopes to reduce that amount further by sales of felled trees. Remaining money in the fund will go to replant new trees that will meet height requirements as they mature.
City Clerk Mary Mercer proposed a modest modification to the proposed COFB Public Records Request Policy and Procedures (2012-200) to remove reference to a specific local vendor for map duplication, citing the availability of several local firms capable of handling such requests today. The FBCC commended Mercer’s efforts in bringing the policy and procedures to fruition. The FBCC via Resolution 2012-201 authorized Deputy City Clerk Kimberly Elliott-Briley to fulfill the duties of the City Clerk until such time as a new City Clerk is hired. Mercer will leave employment with the City of Fernandina Beach in early January 2013 to accept employment in the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office. In a related discussion, the FBCC gave the green light to City Manager Joe Gerrity and City Attorney Tammi Bach to proceed with advertising for a new city clerk.
Advisory Board Appointments
- Airport Advisory Committee. The FBCC unanimously appointed 3 new members from 7 applicants (City Manager Gerrity withdrew former commissioner Jeffrey Bunch’s application at Bunch’s request): Amelia Dunphy, term ending in 2014; Richard Gray and Jim Stephenson, terms ending in 2015.
- Golf Course Advisory Board. The FBCC unanimously approved the reappointment of members Doug Bailey and Bruce Smyk and ratified the nomination of Jane Page to serve as the representative of the Women’s Golf Association for 2013.
Charter Officer Reports
- City Manager Gerrity announced his appointment of Maintenance Manager Rex Lester to serve as the city’s Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator. He also announced that the city will hold its first work session on the 2013-14 budget at a public, daylong meeting on January 8, 2013.
- City Attorney Tammi Bach announced the recovery of $10,000 in tax revenues paid by the city in connection with bankruptcy proceedings of an airport tenant. That money has been returned to the airport.
- Commissioner Pat Gass asked City Attorney Bach to begin looking at amending the City Charter so that in November 2013 citizens might vote to change the term of office of city commissioners from 3 to 4 years. By doing this, city elections would coincide with county and state elections, saving the city $15,000 in election costs. She also asked the city manager to provide information on the impact to city revenues of amendments to the state constitution passed in November.
- Commissioner Ed Boner expressed his desire to revisit the neon sign issue, questioning the interpretation of the “2 square foot” provision. Commissioner Filkoff suggested that his concerns involved hypothetical situations and might be better addressed should they materialize. He was advised to consult Community Development Director Marshall McCrary to have his questions more fully answered.
- Commissioner Filkoff reported on the success of the recent Polar Express and the Shop With Cops activity, which helped 160 children purchase holiday gifts.
- Mayor Sarah Pelican reported on the success of the Christmas parade. She also asked each commissioner to come to the January 8 budget workshop with 5 goals or ideas.
All commissioners wished the community a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
December 19, 2012 5:53 p.m.