BROOKSVILLE — In a surprise decision, the Brooksville City Council chose Monday to forgo an earlier proposal to fill former council member David Pugh Jr.'s seat until November.
Instead, former council member Frankie Burnett, who was chosen by the council Monday night to temporarily fill the seat, will serve only until a special election is held, though council members indicated they will revisit the issue.
The divided council seemed unable to come to a consensus on what was worse — a costly special election or a proposed amendment to a city ordinance that would alter the way the council fills vacant seats.
Under the present ordinance, which calls for a special election within 90 days of a vacancy, Burnett will serve until April 6. But after the discussion and the selection of Burnett, council members decided to hold a special meeting Feb. 8 to discuss possible alternatives that might save the estimated $25,000 to $30,000 cost of holding a special municipal election.
"I'm trying to do anything to curtail this," said Mayor Lara Bradburn, who favored overwriting the existing ordinance to allow a replacement council member to serve until the next scheduled general election.
For the most part, division over the issue followed familiar paths.
Council member Joe Johnston III, who found fault with the existing ordinance, instead proposed the possibility of leaving the council at four members, instead of five, until the 2012 election, when Pugh's term expires. Council member Richard Lewis said he favored keeping the present ordinance in place, saying that "it hasn't been shown that it doesn't work."
However, council member Joe Bernardini and Bradburn questioned whether the council could function with an even number of members. Both said they favored the proposal pitched at the Jan. 19 council meeting that would have nixed the special election requirement.
Burnett was one of five candidates who submitted letters of interest to fill the seat held by Pugh, who resigned to become a sheriff's deputy in Pasco County.
The others were Jason Sharp, Shannon Dempsey, Herman Scriven and Brent Gaustad. Council members clearly favored the experience of Burnett, who served on the council from 2004 to 2008.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.