Gateway Sun

For the longest time, the Board of Supervisors of the Gateway CDD seemed to enjoy wrapping themselves up in as much red tape as they possibly could. For nearly all of 2015 and much of 2016 the board would find even the smallest reasons to stall projects and delay decisions.

The past few months have seen a notable shift, with the board taking action on the fiscal year 2017 budget, Fun Park, Girl Scout building and the contract of Operations Manager April White.

Some of the credit goes to both White and new Supervisor Doug Banks. The pair seem to be working well together and have actually presented solutions to problems for the board to discuss at district meetings.

But most of the credit goes to Chairman William Guy, who has essentially forced the Board of Supervisors to discuss the district’s key issues and – more importantly – to actually make decisions, whether they want to or not.

Regardless of the topic, it seems at least one Supervisor will attempt to convince the board not to act for one reason or another. Usually the person trying to stall the progress has been Supervisor Gary Neubauer, but other board members are guilty as well including Banks, Vice-Chairman Margaret Fineberg and Supervisor Pam Gill.

In the past, Guy would do his best to placate the Supervisors who wanted to wait … often kicking the can down the road “until the next meeting”. But in recent months Guy has been able to sense when a majority of the board wants to act on an issue, and he convinces one of the Supervisors to make a motion.

You can tell it’s like pulling teeth sometimes for Guy, but lately he’s realized that getting someone to make motion is the key to progress.

Guy used to favor unanimous decisions from his board, but now he knows that – especially while Neubauer is still there – all five Supervisors being in agreement will rarely occur.

So Guy appears to have decided that while some votes may pass and some may fail, he prefers that they actually vote. This is a remarkable change to the GSCDD board’s mode of operation from the past year or two.

The most recent example came this past Thursday when the board began to discuss to situation surrounding White, who is serving as the GSCDD Operations Manager but is actually an employee of Severn Trent.

For months most of the board has wanted White to be a district employee, but they can’t seem to get out of their own way to make it happen. Some progress was being made on the topic as Guy was able to coerce Banks to make a motion to approve the job description he developed for the Ops Manager position. The situation looked like it would be derailed as Neubauer began a long-winded objection, going off on several tangents. At one point Guy had enough and forcefully told Neubauer he was “out of order” and Guy directed Neubauer to stay on topic.

Guy made sure the vote eventually took place, passing by a 3-2 margin with Neubuaer and Gill voting against. It was like herding cats, but Guy got it done.

It wasn’t a perfect day for the Chairman, though.

Moments after the job description was approved, the topic turned to determining the Ops Manager salary. Despite Fineberg and Banks most likely having a starting salary in mind, Guy was unable to convince either Supervisor to share their salary figure to get the discussion started.

Guy looked visibly frustrated as you could tell he wanted to make even more progress on the issue of the Ops Manager position. If a number had been floated by Fineberg or Banks, I’m convinced another big decision would have been made at the last meeting and the district would have been one step closer to finally hiring White as a district employee.

White has done a good job and has the support of Guy, Fineberg and Banks. Neubauer and Gill want to start the entire hiring process all over again from scratch. Guy noted that in his time as a Supervisor there have been five Operations Managers and he has no interest in making it six, especially when you’ve got someone like White who has demonstrated she’s fully capable of doing the job.

Circling back to the Girl Scout building inspections and the Fun Park surveillance system, and now with the approval of a job description for the Ops Manager, this board has made more meaningful decisions in the past few months than it has in the past few years.

There’s no question that the reason for the accelerated progress is because Chairman Guy is hellbent on advancing the ball, dragging the other Supervisors along with him whenever he has to.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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