Valdosta Daily Times

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February 7, 2013

Absences keep Lake Park City Council from meeting

LAKE PARK — Several citizens and business owners voiced their concerns and displeasure Tuesday night regarding the Lake Park City Council’s inability to officially meet.

After the council declared it could not conduct any of the planned agenda business due to a lack of quorum, the gathered citizens raised questions about what could be done. Tuesday night marked the second regular council meeting in a row where quorum wasn’t met because two of the city’s four council members were absent. At least three council members must be in attendance for the Lake Park City Council to officially conduct business.

Council members Russell Lane and Shauneen Moss were absent from both meetings.

Several attendees questioned if absent council members could have their pay held or could be held accountable for attendance in some way.

City Attorney Rob Plumb advised that council members could not have their pay held or be removed from the council for failure to attend, in accordance with the city charter. Citizens displeased with the service of an elected city official could try and hold a recall, a long, costly process, but by the time the recall went through all of the proper procedures, it would almost be time to vote in the next election.

According to the unofficial minutes from the City Council’s Dec. 6 meeting, Councilman Russell Lane addressed concerns from Lake Park citizens regarding his past absences. Lane explained that his business schedule and business issues kept him from attending as much as he would have liked, but that he didn’t foresee that being a problem any longer.

According to the unofficial minutes from the Dec. 18 meeting, Lane said he had considered leaving the meeting so the council could not vote on an unsettled budget. He and Moss opposed amending the 2012 budget at that meeting.

The reason these minutes are unofficial is because City Council has been unable to officially meet to approve them.

The Times called and emailed council members Lane and Moss Wednesday, but they could not be reached for comment.

Mayor Eric Schindler assured everyone that the city could still run and pay all of its bills without a City Council meeting, but did acknowledge that the city couldn’t move forward on some things on the agenda.

“That’s two months of business that we can’t conduct,” said Schindler. “It’s unfortunate, but I’m still optimistic. There’s a lot of things we’d like to tackle.”

The next scheduled City Council meeting is an audit workshop, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 26. At 7 p.m. today, Feb. 7, there is a town hall meeting being held at Lake Park City Hall.

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