Midway looks to county for planning help

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Times Correspondent

A proposed inter-local agreement for Gadsden County to provide city planning services to the city of Midway raised debate at the Jan. 2 meeting of the Midway City Council. 

The agreement would enable the county to assist a growth management department that is in a state of disarray. Councilwoman Allean Robinson was opposed to the proposition.

“We are a city; we are not the county,” said Robinson. “If we let them control the city of Midway, we are no longer a city.”

Interim City Manager Dorothy Inman-Johnson said the agreement would not take growth management out of the hands of the council.

“They would be making recommendations to the council based on the regulations passed by the city of Midway — not by Gadsden County,” said Inman-Johnson.

Councilwoman Robinson also expressed concern over the $23,500 cost Midway would incur as a result of the agreement. Mayor Pro-Tem Dolores Madison said hiring a full-time planner would be more costly.

“If we had to advertise and bring on board a full-time person to work in this particular department, we would be paying over $40,000,” said Madison. “If the council does decide to go along with this inter-local agreement, I think it will help us in the long run. We have projects that we need to move forward, and we can’t do that without the proper people in place.”

The council voted 5-1 (Councilman Charlie Smith was absent) in favor of the agreement; Robinson casting the dissenting vote.

Later in the evening, Robinson initiated a discussion to advertise the position of Midway City Manager.

“We need to advertise for a city manager because Ms. Johnson was only supposed to be brought in temporarily,” she said. “I feel that we should not advertise just in Gadsden County but also in Tallahassee and nationally as well.”

Councilwoman Pamela Mann then expressed her desire to have thorough background checks conducted on all future applicants.

“If we decide that we are going to look for another city manager, we need to stop considering people that have been fired from other counties,” said Mann. “It is not helping or promoting any growth for this city.”

At that point, Interim City Manager Inman-Johnson produced a letter that she stated had been sent to all the members of the Midway council from an anonymous source. The letter claimed Inman-Johnson had been forced to retire from her position with the Capital Area Community Action Agency for her lack of forward progress and constant argumentative relationships with her staff members.

Inman-Johnson then produced documents, including emails from the former board chairman of the CACAA, showing that the allegations were untrue. She produced a letter from President Barack Obama, congratulating Inman-Johnson on her retirement and thanking her for her service to the community.

“I have worked for my reputation for 67 years, and if somebody is going to say something about me I want it to be the truth,” Inman-Johnson said in response to the allegations. “A lot of this stuff has been going on since I got here: lies, gossip and backstabbing. I don’t think it’s the community; I think it’s a handful of people who don’t want change.”

Afterward, a motion to advertise the city manager position failed to carry, with Robinson and Councilman Charles Willis on the losing end of a 2-4 vote.

Other Midway business:

 Ken Pridemore was sworn in as chief of the Midway Fire Department.

 The council voted 6-0 to nominate a boundary for the Midway enterprise zone. The enterprise zone will help encourage economic growth by offering tax incentives for businesses operating within the zone.