There’s a new supervisor on the board and new person holding the gavel after Wednesday’s organizational meeting of the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors.
After a shift on the board’s political balance, Jennifer Hager was unanimously elected ITID president, replacing longtime ITID President Michelle Damone, who remains on the board but without an officer position.
Also taking his seat Wednesday was Supervisor Gary Dunkley, who unseated former Supervisor Carlos Enriquez in last month’s election. Both Dunkley and Damone took the oath of office at the start of the meeting.
The other officer positions also changed. Supervisor Carol Jacobs was named vice president, Dunkley was chosen as treasurer, ITID Attorney Mary Viator was tapped as secretary and Supervisor Ralph Bair was named assistant secretary.
All officer appointments carried on unanimous 5-0 votes.
Hager said she wanted to initiate some changes immediately, starting with allowing more discussion from the audience.
“I know that in the past, the three-minute cutoff has been a big thing for some of you,” she said, addressing the residents in attendance. “If you’re at the end of your three minutes and you think it’s legit that you go over and have an active conversation, that’s fine and great. If it’s packed, and we have a million of these [comment cards] in, we’ll tighten it up a little bit.”
In the event of a major issue cropping up — such as last summer’s flood — Hager said she would change the meeting venue rather than have people standing outside.
She also wanted to move supervisors’ comments to immediately follow the president’s remarks at the beginning of the meetings.
“I would like to keep cool up here and have no interruptions,” Hager said.
To maintain decorum, she brought four rulers for supervisors to raise if they desired to speak. “I really would like the county commissioner thing,” she said, referring to lights in front of the commission chair that glow when a certain commissioner wants to speak.
Jacobs made a motion to redo the entire public address system so people could hear them better. “These [microphones] are not working,” she said. “We’ve had complaint after complaint after complaint. People in the audience can’t hear. This is very important for public record that this works up here.”
Jacobs made a motion to get price quotes for a new public address system by the next meeting. The motion carried unanimously.
Jacobs also made a motion to allow supervisor remarks at the beginning of the meeting, which also carried unanimously.
Jacobs said she’d heard that the district’s horse crossing signs were being redesigned with a horseshoe, without board input, and said she would prefer the standard “Slow Down for Horses.”
“It’s like redesigning a stop sign,” she said. “People know when they see a horse sign that it’s a horse area. If we’re going to redesign it, I think it should at least come to the board. If not, we should just go to regulation horse signs.”
Jacobs added that she thought the agenda review, conducted a week before the board meeting, was excellent.
“I think we should keep it up and it should be advertised to the public, because when we put things on the agenda, there’s people out there in the public who pay for all of us, and we all live out here and we all pay taxes and everybody out here needs to know what we’re going to be voting on,” she said.
Jacobs noted that the board often votes on things that the public is not made aware of.
“I want this board to be so transparent that we’re like the airport when we go through the walk-in machines,” she said, adding that she didn’t want anyone saying they can’t get public records or do not know what the board is voting on.
Jacobs said she preferred the agenda review as a group as opposed to the district administrator calling in supervisors individually. She made a motion to have the agendas ready in time for a review meeting at least a week before the regular meeting and to advertise it. The motion carried 4-1 with Bair opposed. He said he disagreed with Jacobs’ implying that information has been withheld from the public.
Jacobs also said the flooding after Tropical Storm Isaac should not have been as bad as it was because the board had not done everything it could to get greater discharge, but Bair said the district has been fighting with the South Florida Water Management District for 20 years to get more than a quarter-inch-per-day discharge allotment.
“That is a complete mischaracterization, that we have not tried to do anything,” Bair said. “We are still working on this. You can say whatever you want, but it doesn’t make it true.”
ABOVE: The new ITID board (L-R) Ralph Bair, Jennifer Hager, Carol Jacobs, Michelle Damone and Gary Dunkley.