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By Tom Paulson
City Editor 

"Frustrated" Mayor Complains About Absence of Commissioners

Hilligoss, Williams Skip Two Meetings in One Week

 

Last updated 3/11/2022 at 8:45am

EMPTY CHAIRS - Mayor Eugene Fultz, left, expressed his frustration at the repeated absences of Commissioners Daniel Williams and Jack Hilligoss, who normally fill the chairs in this photo, taken from the city's video feed of the meeting. City Manager James Slaton and City Attorney Chuck Galloway are visible at the lower right. Hilligoss is one of three candidates seeking to fill Fultz's mayoral position as he retires in May.

A day after a bare three-member quorum at the Community Redevelopment Agency meeting gave city staff direction on the form of a planned $18.5 million dollar bond issue in the absence of commissioners Jack Hilligoss and Daniel Williams, Mayor Eugene Fultz voiced his frustration at the absence of the same two commissioners at the City Commission's 2:00 pm Wednesday agenda workshop.

Vice Mayor Robin Gibson, who attended both meetings, had let his fellow commissioners know that he had a conflict Wednesday that would force him to depart the meeting at 3:00. The pressure came on at the 2:57 mark, when Fultz said "We can keep talking, but when he leaves we're not going to have a quorum."

"It would be nice to have at least a quorum of commissioners here when we go through all of this," Fultz said, his irritation obvious. "You're going to have to go through the very same thing again during the commission meeting," he said. "You're going to go back through pretty much all of this.".

The workshops were initiated by City Manager James Slaton in order to brief the commissioners in advance, so that they would be familiar with the issues they will be asked to vote upon at the following weeks' meeting.

Slaton tried to assure Fultz that he would "get with" the absent duo before next Tuesday's meeting, but Slaton's full schedule makes it unlikely that he will be able to communicate the nuanced details discussed in the workshops.

Commissioner absences have become a topic of discussion among city staff. One who wished to remain anonymous for apparent reasons commented of a commissioner that "he doesn't like to come to school."

At the end of the meeting Fultz admitted that he was "frustrated that everybody wasn't here, wasn't going to be here."

"Hopefully it won't expand our commission meeting too much by having to repeat or go back over the things we discussed, the things we touched on, and I hope they get the significance of what was discussed here today."

The Tuesday discussion of the bond issue has been described as the most significant decision ever undertaken by the Lake Wales City Commission in its more than 100 year history. Other issues on the agenda Wednesday included presentations on several proposed developments that will bring hundreds of additional homes into the city.

LakeWalesNews.Net has reached out to both Hilligoss and Williams to allow them an opportunity to explain their absences. This story will be updated if we receive a reply.

 

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