We should take note that Florence made changes to the city’s website in October of 2018.

Prior to these changes a citizen could go to city’s website and go to a September 2010 council meeting agenda. Click on any resolution and the supporting documents for the resolution were available for citizen review. The current council has changed this. Now this information is not available for meeting agendas prior to the October 2, 2018 meeting agenda.

In addition, the city’s website states, “The city council meeting minutes are added as they become available.” The minutes for the April 16, 2019 meeting were approved at the May 9 meeting. The April 16 meeting was almost two months ago, yet as of this press time, had yet to be posted. Prior to the recent changes, minutes were posted in a more timely manner. Are these actions a violation of the spirit of the Freedom of Information laws?

Another action is the handling of the city’s properties located at Cox Creek Park (CCP) and the city’s vacant dog pound property downtown. The city gifted the property located within CCP to UNA for a new baseball facility. An article in the TimesDaily about the new dog pound dated May 14, 2019, stated, “The old center will be sold to the city’s electricity department which is adjacent to it.” I was not aware the electricity department had agreed to purchase the property. A purchase price was not included in the article. The property is owned by the city and the electricity department should have free use of the property. The electricity department gets their money from the citizens of Florence.

So property is free to UNA, but Florence citizens pay. That isn’t right!

Another action is the sales tax increase that the council approved at their January 15, 2019 meeting. The rate was raised from 8.5% to 9.5%. This is a sales tax increase of 11.7%. The increase is expected to raise $10,546,860 in one year and $52,734,300 over five years. On January 17, 2019 a TimesDaily headline stated, “Sales tax vote lacked public element it deserved.” So, they avoided taxpayer input.

This sales tax increase needs to be reduced immediately.

If the actions noted were a baseball game, it would be strike one, strike two, strike three, and y’all are out!

Bill Smoak