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Florence city council extends negotiations

Staff writer

Florence city council held back-to-back executive sessions at Monday evening’s meeting to discuss a lease offered by the DeForest family for use of Crystal Springs.

The sessions were held for half an hour and 20 minutes, with the council, Mayor Bob Gayle, and city attorney Randy Pankratz present.

“At the recommendation of our attorney, we’re still in negotiations,” councilman Traycee Warner said.

The process has dragged on, but it needs to be solved properly, she said.

“It’s been physically and emotionally draining for me, but I agree all parties have to be protected,” Warner said. “That’s what negotiating the contract will do.”

Community member Jeanie Meirowsky questioned the council on the hiring of an attorney and the previous pursuit for eminent domain.

“Where is the money coming from to do all this,” she asked. “You have to have answers, guys, you have to give us something. Why have we been going on for so long?”

Councilman Ken Hoffman was the first to answer.

“We never had the cooperation that we’ve had in the last 30 days,” he said. “In the last 30 days, was when things really started to gel.”

The matter fell to the council in the first place because the previous agreement did not receive final approval before the council members changed, mayor Bob Gayle said.

“If it had been taken care of by the last council, it could have been done, but it didn’t,” he said. “It fell over onto this council and this council has fresh eyes to look at it. They chose to go a different direction.”

Local business owner Sarah Dawson asked why the council spent money to discuss eminent domain, when they ended up pursuing negotiations.

“Since April, we’ve spent $20,000,” she said. “A significant portion of that was with regard to eminent domain. That’s the question that needs to be answered.”

Gayle responded that a deal is close to completion and that will help answer questions.

“I think the answers are coming shortly,” he said. “We’re pretty close. If we can just get these last few things worked out, I think it’ll all come to a head.”

A third executive session was held to discuss personnel matters of nonelected personnel, with all previous people and city clerk Janet Robertson present.

A motion was passed unanimously to hire a part-time garbage truck operator, weekly schedule not to exceed 30 hours.

Warner proposed to pay for firefighters, city employees, and immediate family members to receive flu shots, which passed unanimously.

October’s meetings were moved from the first and third Mondays to the second and fourth Mondays.

Two of the city’s work trucks were unanimously approved to be sold via sealed bid. Florence retained the right to accept or deny any offers.

Last modified Sept. 27, 2018

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