Ronald Thompkins, CPA and Managing Partner of the Florida offices of the Watson and Rice auditing firm, addressed the Quincy City Commission during the regular meeting Oct. 8 on the need to bring in an outside resource to assist with the internal audit originally scheduled to be completed in June.
The request led to a heated exchange between Commissioner Derrick Elias and City Manager Jack McLean Jr., in which Elias accused McLean of lying and falsifying spreadsheets. Elias moved to terminate Manager McLean’s contract, a motion seconded by Commissioner Micah Brown but ultimately struck down.
Speaking to a Times reporter after the meeting, McLean addressed the allegations.
“I think his (Commissioner Elias’) behavior is uncalled for, unprofessional and inconsistent with somebody that holds a high office in this community,” McLean said. “No one has done anything in this city that is deliberately wrong.”
McLean cited personal issues within the financial department and a “lack of attention to the proper tracking of exchange of funds,” as reasons for the delay in completing the audit. The Thomas Howell Ferguson accounting firm will assist the city in preparing the audit.
In other business, commissioners voted 5-0 to begin the negotiation process that could ultimately result in the annexation of 1,706 acres of land immediately south of the State Road 267/I-10 intersection into Quincy.
The incorporation of this acreage would allow for development along the heavily traveled I-10 corridor.
“We are the only municipality that has yet to develop a significant commercial presence along the I-10 corridor,” said Quincy Building and Zoning Director Alonso Figgers.
The bulk of the land is occupied by the undeveloped Shaw property and the University of Florida IFAS facility. McLean said there would be a public hearing in which affected property owners and other interested parties could express their concerns.
Commissioners also voted to adopt Ordinance No 1058-2013 to ensure the city is in cooperation with state statute for allowing public input during official proceedings.
“I think this is a good ordinance,” said Commissioner Andy Gay. “It brings our city procedures into compliance with state statute. It also gives our citizens more rights to participate in public hearings and protects the integrity of the commission.”
Quincy Police Chief Walt McNeil and Captain Robert Mixom were on hand to demonstrate the updated and improved Computer Aided Dispatch System. The new system will allow the QPD to track and monitor high crime areas more effectively, in order to better allocate resources.
“This technology gives our officers the ability to be more predictive in our efforts to fight crime, said McNeil. “The system, ideally, would allow us to have officers on the scene before a crime is committed.”
In other Quincy business:
• In honor of “Fire Prevention Week,” which runs October 6 to 12, Fire Chief Scott Haire told commissioners the Quincy Fire Department will be reaching out to area schools to promote fire prevention.
The QFD will also be installing smoke detectors in homes, available for free upon request.
• McLean discussed the “2-1-1 Information and Referral Search” sponsored by United Way. Citizens in need can dial 2-1-1 for help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more.
• Utilities Director Mike Wade reported that negotiations with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to renew the city’s wastewater treatment plant permit are going smoothly.
• October has officially been dually designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Quincy.