Whenever I’m between topics or otherwise stumped for an idea, I count on commission email.
Most weeks (sometimes I forget) I ask for the email from a randomly selected commissioner. I usually receive them the following Monday or Tuesday.
Last week’s commissioner was Holly Davis. Two topics in particular caught my eye:
— Citrus County is still in search of a new economic development director after the man who accepted the job bowed out.
Steve Weathers, president and CEO of the Greenville Eastern North Carolina Alliance, had accepted the job and began the transition to Citrus County. He was going to be in town to meet commissioners at their April 12 meeting, and start by the end of April or early May.
Instead, Weathers sent Oliver this email:
“My wife and I have had long discussions about the opportunity with Citrus County. Unfortunately, I need to rescind the offer of employment with Citrus County, it is just not feasible for me and my family. I hope you will accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience this has caused you and your staff. But, it is the right decision for me and my wife. I am confident that you will find another economic development professional that will be a good fit for you and Citrus County. I wish you, your team and Citrus County the best of luck and hope everything goes well in the coming months.”
Hard to speculate what happened here, but it’s certainly a flag. With Oliver’s resignation coming sometime this year, and a county commission that’s having difficulty functioning under Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr., one community concern is the county won’t be able to keep or attract qualified people for leadership positions.
No good way to spin this one. Just unfortunate.
—I’m not a boater, so all I know about the new boat launch fee is from what I read about others’ experiences. And, frankly, it’s got some glitches that are really getting under people’s skin.
The county hired a company to run this thing, which operates similar to the parkway’s toll-by-plate. Except, what plate? The plate on my car or the one on my boat trailer?
Here’s an excerpt from an email that explains it better than me. I think you can appreciate the writer’s frustration:
“I am a season pass holder and am also active on several Facebook groups. So many are receiving citations in the mail through no fault of theirs. There is no way for them to pay for a launch fee outside of using a phone or computer. Citations have also been sent to season pass holders because the instructions are vague on registering the trailer tags and not vehicle tags.
“Another issue has been with Premium Parking toll free customer service, either they don’t answer or people are getting mixed or incorrect information. We need to incorporate a way to simplify this process and also allow for those who wish to use our boat ramps to have the ability to pay onsite with either a kiosk or a physical person.”
The writer went into great detail about the program’s flaws. It doesn’t sound user-friendly.
And not just inconvenient. Boaters who bought season passes by registering their vehicle license plate number on the form are getting citations because they didn’t register the correct plate. So when they launch, the camera at the boat ramp picks up what it considers an illegal trailer.
Davis sent the email up the chain and along came a response from parks director Francine Nobles. In general: We’re working out the wrinkles and it’ll get better.
“We are sensitive to the fact, not all have smart phones or use computers, hence why Premium Parking customer service line is available,” Nobles’ email reads. “If patrons are having difficulties, my staff in Parks and Recreation are trained and available to assist here in the Administrative office.
“We had a great call today with our representative from Premium Parking to address concerns of customer service, citations, website messaging, and signage.”
Great, but someone receiving a citation because he bought a season pass using his vehicle license plate and not the trailer plate — c’mon, that isn’t right.
That’s all I have to say about the boat fees. This should be an easy repair on the county’s part.
Have a great Citrus County Thursday.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.