Quincy meeting spurs questions

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Times Reporter 

The Quincy City Commission held a special meeting March 3 to discuss recently unconcluded issues, including a possible contract with Internet provider Level 3 for resale rights and one gigabyte of bandwidth. 

Level 3 was the most contested issue among commissioners. Commissioner Andy Gay objected to the topic even being discussed. He based this objection on the successful passage of his motion during the Feb. 25 meeting to cease and desist all activities involving arrangements with Level 3. 

To make this objection, Gay official challenged Mayor Keith Dowdell’s authority to set the agenda. 

The challenge went to a vote. Dowdell and Edwards voted to follow the agenda and discuss the city’s possible options with Level 3. Gay and Commissioner Derrick Elias voted to discard the issue as an addressed and concluded topic. Commissioner Micah Brown was absent. 

Jerry Miller, city attorney, said a tie meant Dowdell maintained authority to set the agenda. 

Commissioner Larry Edwards asked the commissioners why they are against considering any idea that might generate revenue for the city.

Edwards acknowledged his own misgivings about the city originally becoming involved with telecommunications — but he reminded the commission they can only work from the position in which they already find themselves.

Elias said he had not seen the contract Jack McLean, city manager, had discussed with Level 3. Elias wanted to know if anyone had seen the contract. None of the commissioners said they had. 

Dowdell said he was concerned personal feelings were hampering the commissioners’ decisions. 

No conclusion was reached. Edwards and Dowdell voted to retain the issue, slating the topic for further possible discussion during the March 11 meeting. 

Earlier in the evening, Jeff Williams, financial director, presented the commissioners and citizens with charts outlining the city’s financial situation.

Williams said the money coming in and the money going out are roughly equal. 

“I think you’ve set a course that we should have been on a long time ago,” said Gay.

The discussion about mobile and modular homes solicited more interaction. 

Several citizens spoke, venting frustrations about how they believe their property values have been adversely affected.

The commission could not categorically confirm or deny this belief.

Modular homes, which are currently not subjected to the same restrictions in the city as mobile homes, are designated as modular by a seal from the state. Quincy residents questioned the building standards behind these seals, arguing that a state-designated modular home could a mobile home. 

Discussion of new city-specific building standards ensued, including consideration of roof pitch and foundation type. 

Edwards asked if these changes would apply to site-built homes. Miller voiced similar concerns, noting the number of nice homes with varying foundation types. A conclusive answer to this question was not reached. 

More than once, Dowdell asked the assembled citizens how they would like to see the issue addressed. Despite the number and nature of citizens’ comments, suggested solutions were not forthcoming. 

Miller explained the mobile home industry wields enough power to buy and sell the Florida Legislature. He warned the city against pursuing local legislation that might conflict with this lobby. He said the city would be sued, and the city would lose. 

Elias said the city’s hands are tied by state law. 

McLean said a change in the city’s definitions of modular home rather than new building standards might lend some legal flexibility.