Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Dade City's longtime clerk hands in resignation

DADE CITY — The city's longtime finance director/city clerk announced his resignation Tuesday as city commissioners were tying up loose ends involving a recent decision to split his job into two separate positions.

Jim Class said Jan. 10 will be the last day of his nearly 30-year career with the city, most of which has been in the dual role.

"I try to live my life according to the Bible, and for the last three months or so while this political drama has gone on, I have tried to do that. I just want to say that I don't harbor any grudges for anything that's been done," said Class, who is taking a job with the Pasco school district's finance department.

Commissioners reacted in stunned silence after Class' announcement. City attorney Karla Owens spoke first, saying she was at a loss for words and then noted the city will need to immediately advertise for a finance director.

The commission also found itself in need of a new city clerk. When they voted last month to split the position, the board offered the job to deputy clerk Joanna Akers, who said she was interested but wanted to discuss details. But Akers declined the job and is seeking a reduced work schedule to care for her mother.

"It's interesting to note the casualties of all of this," said Commissioner Scott Black. "If this was all done in the name of progress, I fail to see how this is progress. This wasn't well thought through, despite the scheming or whatever went on to make it happen. It is most unfortunate."

Black thanked Class and Akers for their service to the city. Class, too, thanked Akers and said he was sorry to see her fall victim to an "ill-conceived plan."

Talk of splitting the position began and stalled during summer budget workshops.

Commissioner Jimmy Shive brought it up again at the end of an early October meeting, during commissioners' comments, by making a motion to split the job. Shive said he believed such a move would improve customer service and reduce Class' workload. Black urged the group to hold off on a vote, saying they needed time to figure out the economics and logistics of such a move.

The commission met in a workshop later that month to work out the mechanics of the split and ended up voting 3-2 to make it happen, before job descriptions were written. Black and Commissioner Bill Dennis voted against the job split.

Commissioner Eunice Penix on Wednesday defended the move. She said she knows of no other city in the state that has a combined finance director/city clerk and believes it is in the best interest of Dade City to keep those jobs separate.

Black later proposed an ordinance that prohibits voting in workshop sessions or on items that have not been announced on meeting agendas.

The commission voted unanimously Tuesday to hold a public hearing on the ordinance Jan. 14.

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