By REID TUCKER
The Paxton Town Council and the Florida League of Cities (FLC) recognized Council Chairman Bobby Kemp for his 40 years of service in city government.
The FLC’s Sharon Berrian, Associate Director of Membership Development, traveled from Tallahassee on Nov.15 to present Kemp with a plaque and special pin in commemoration of his four consecutive decades as a councilman following the Council’s regularly scheduled meeting. In addition to these awards, Kemp will be featured on the League’s Facebook page and website and in its association magazine, Quality Cities. Berrian also presented a resolution from the League honoring Kemp for his dedication to community service.
Kemp happily accepted the honors bestowed on him by the League of Cities and he said he was proud to have done so many years of service for his hometown. In fact, he said he could not have made it this long had it not been for the love and support of the people of the Paxton community.
“If it hadn’t been for the great people of Paxton I never could have been here,” Kemp said. “There’ve been people that have supported me on every corner and I love and appreciate them. Some of the best people in the world live here in Paxton and I really mean that. Everybody here has known me whole life…and I just thank God that I live in a place like Paxton.”
The Years of Service Awards are an annual FLC recognition presented to officials that serve in local government for 20 years or more all the way up to 50 years, which makes Kemp an elite member of an already exclusive group of award recipients. Barrian, who has worked with the League of Cities for 27 years, said it was a rare honor for her to meet Kemp and to recognize his years spent on the Paxton Town Council.
“[Councilman Kemp] is to be commended for his dedication and phenomenal public service,” Berrian said. “He serves as an exemplary role model for other public servants across the state, and indeed the nation, who work every day to provide the best in municipal service to their citizens. He deserves to be recognized for his accomplishments, service and hard work.”
After the award presentation concluded, Kemp’s family and friends and those in attendance at the meeting enjoyed a reception catered by local Paxton resident Sharon Powell, who the Council thanked for her help in putting on the event. The meeting and reception was held at the Paxton Agricultural Center in order to accommodate all those in attendance.
While the visit from the League of Cities was the focal point of the meeting, there still remained plenty of city business to address. The top-priority item remaining on the table from meetings past was the issue of whether or not to pursue litigation against a former water system customer who owes the city $1,800 for delinquent charges on his account. After making her report to the Council, City Attorney Lori Bytell advised board members not to bring a suit against the former water system employee because taking the issue to court would likely end up costing the city more than they could collect in a judgment.
“It’s not likely that we would lose the litigation, but whether or not we could collect the judgment would be the issue,” Bytell said. “Certainly it would nice to have a piece of paper saying he owes us the money but it would be even better to have the money in our bank account.”
Because the former water customer does not own the property he lives on, a judgment against him could not be affected as a lien against the property as per Paxton’s city ordinance. Furthermore, Bytell said the individual in question does not have assets or income sufficient to recoup the city’s losses. On top of that, with court costs closing in on $1,500, a judgment, collectable or not, would only result in minimal gain for the city.
The Council voted 5-0 in favor of following Bytell’s recommendation, though she pointed out that the city could decide to pursue litigation at any point within four years of the former water customer’s breach of contract. Finally, no city water account may be activated by this individual until the delinquent account is paid in full.
Billing Clerk Judy Williams requested of the Council that the $2 fee charged to customers paying their water and sewer bills using a credit or debit card be waived, which passed unanimously when put to the vote. The $2 fee was used to offset the monthly analysis fee charged to the city by the bank that processes each credit card transaction, but Williams said more customers were likely to pay via that method if the fee was waived. The move is a win-win situation for both Paxton and utilities customers, she said, as the amount charged to the city in the form of analysis and processing fees by the bank will decrease as more customers pay using credit or debit cards.
Finally, the Council unanimously approved a motion to grant city employees a one-time pay raise of a week’s salary in lieu of a Christmas bonus, since holiday bonuses are not permissible according to state statute.