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The very first words by a newly elected Winter Springs City Commissioner touched off a contentious beginning for a new Commission group and threatened to stop the city from finalizing a budget Monday night.
As the city was set to vote to approve the Commission meeting agenda and start the meeting, Commissioner Cade Resnick, sworn in just moments before, requested that the Commission remove all voting items from the agenda.
“Respectfully I would like any voting items to be pulled from this agenda as I did not actually get a chance to read the agenda until 9 o’clock this morning,” Resnick said.
“Oh boy,” Mayor Kevin McCann said.
That comment touched off nearly 20 minutes of city officials, none of whom had been asked the question before, discussing whether it was technically possible to do it.
“If you want I could abstain and that would be fine,” Resnick said.
“First, legally I don’t believe you’re allowed to abstain,” McCann said. “Boy, right off the bat.”
City Manager Shawn Boyle clarified that by city code all commissioners were to receive the agenda by Wednesday. Resnick said he only received additional documents he’d asked for on Monday. Boyle said he’d spoken to Resnick over the weekend to make sure he had everything he needed.
“I am not 100% sure about Commissioner [Victoria] Colangelo because I reached out to her about six times this weekend and didn’t receive a response,” Boyle said.
Resnick insisted he needed more information that he didn’t receive until Monday and needed more time to review it all to be ready to vote on the budget and other items.
“This is public information,” McCann said. “We’ve had many, many, many public meetings. We had a workshop over the summer where all we did was discuss this one topic…then the City Commission actually met and discussed it at other Commission meetings. We went through it, we talked about it. Now this is it, the final budget vote on a consent agenda where it’s simply a part of ‘Hey here is a group of things this is a technicality we’re going to simply pass it through, it’s the last one after many, many, many months of meetings and now we’re just going to simply push it through.’ But to try to stop something that’s required by law at the last second and then push it back, I’m sorry, but folks, we have to keep the business of the city moving forward. This is the final step of the process.”
This isn’t the first time the $58 million budget saw a threat to be stopped. In September at the budget’s second and final public hearing, then Deputy Mayor Kevin Cannon said he wouldn’t approve the budget unless the city could start allocating funding for police body cameras, which had been requested by Winter Springs Police Chief Matt Tracht.
The city needed to amend the budget again in Monday’s meeting, due to issues with FEMA funding regarding hurricanes Ian and Nicole, both of which hit Winter Springs after the city had passed its budget in September. Resnick said he wanted to review those amendments, though Boyle said that information was already available.
“You’re amending the budget under [item 300, the consent agenda]. That’s not the budget workshop,” Resnick said. “You’re moving money under [item 300, the consent agenda]. And that’s not just my only concern. There’s other things that are in there that I want to have conversations with staff. Under my seat I have the right to have those conversations so I bring back the correct information.”
After it was clarified by City Clerk Christian McGowan that he had sent Resnick the meeting agenda last Wednesday, what followed was a chastising from Commissioners toward Resnick for not being prepared for his first meeting.
“Look, bottom line is this,” McCann said. “We’ve been elected to do a job. This job’s got to get done. I’m sorry, but the job has to get done.”
“The agenda was put out, it was put out on Wednesday, the same time all the rest of us saw it,” Commissioner Matt Benton said.
McCann said that there were budget items that needed to be voted on in order to satisfy legal requirements before the end of the year, and that pushing those back might not be an option.
“There are pressing issues facing this Commission,” he said. “Our next meeting isn’t until December, mid-December. We have certain legal requirements with the state processing our budget.”
“We have people that are expecting us to fix things that are broken because of the storms, we have talked about doing a great deal of improvements, we have roads that are failing, we have bridges that are collapsing and quite frankly I think it would be very, very inappropriate for us to delay the funding for these items for the citizens of Winter Springs based on the fact that one of the commissioners did not read the attachments to the agenda,” Commissioner Ted Johnson said.
The Commission would vote 4-1 to approve the agenda. Resnick dissented. The Commission would later vote on that consent agenda which included the budget amendments, which passed unanimously.
Listen to the audio recording of this meeting here.
Find the agenda packet with all of the documents listed above here.