The Town of Loxahatchee Groves’ Finance Advisory & Auditing Committee (FAAC) chose former Councilman Jim Rockett as chair and former Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Supervisor John Ryan as vice chair at its Oct. 23 meeting, passing over former Vice Chair Ken Johnson.
The committee also set meeting dates and backup dates for the committee, which has met infrequently due to various conflicts. The meeting lasted more than four hours.
Four members were present at the Oct. 23 meeting — Rockett, Ryan, Bruce Cuningham and Connie Bell, who left the meeting after Rockett and Ryan were elected. Johnson and Councilman Ryan Liang, liaison to the committee, were not present.
Rockett called the meeting to order as temporary chair, and Ryan nominated Rockett as chair, seconded by Cuningham.
“Given the direct experience of a couple of the members here… I would like to nominate Jim Rockett as chair,” Ryan said. “Jim, as I recall, had financial experience with both Siemens and IBM and is a chartered management accountant. He also had some years of direct experience with the town and familiarity with its operations, and I think that would stand him in good stead.”
Bell nominated Johnson as chair.
“I would like to nominate Ken as chair, as I did before, since he’s the current vice chair, and has been the longest [serving] member of this committee,” she said. “I think he deserves to be the next chair. I know he has been ill and missed the last few meetings, but I do feel he’s next in line to be the chair. He has a lot of knowledge, and he has put his time in with the committee.”
Bell’s nomination of Johnson died for lack of a second, and Rockett was elected 3-1 with Bell dissenting.
Ryan nominated Cuningham as vice chair.
“Based on his experience with municipal operations, not particularly in the financial area, and his willingness to serve, if he is willing to serve, I would like to nominate Bruce Cuningham,” he said.
Rockett seconded the nomination, but Cuningham turned it down. Rockett then nominated Ryan as vice chair, and Cuningham seconded the nomination.
Bell nominated Johnson to return as vice chair, but her motion again died for lack of a second, and Ryan was elected 3-1 with Bell opposed. She then announced that she was going to leave the meeting.
“Before you guys go any further, I’m going to go home, because I think you guys have this covered,” she said. “You don’t need my assistance. It looks like you guys are in good hands. You three can handle it. You don’t need me. You guys can take care of this meeting tonight by yourselves.”
“Is that a resignation?” Ryan asked.
“No, I just don’t need to be here tonight,” she said. “I absolutely am not resigning. I just don’t need to be here tonight.”
In other business, the committee, which has had trouble mustering a quorum at its meetings, set dates to meet in the future after nearly an hour’s discussion of when they can schedule without conflicting with other meeting dates, including the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council and the Planning & Zoning Board.
Cuningham pointed out that at their last meeting in August, the committee had scheduled meeting dates after a lengthy discussion that was not reflected in the minutes, and noted that after conferring with the committee secretary, Finance Director Perla Underwood, that Bell had voted in favor of the schedule and backup dates.
“Does anyone else recall that we had an affirmative approval of that motion at the last meeting, or am I the only one?” Cuningham asked.
“You’re not the only one,” Rockett said.
Underwood said that Bell had stated at the meeting that she was not going to block off every week of the month to attend FAAC meetings.
“She attended the next two town council meetings in a row and advised the council of such,” Underwood said. “I told you at that time that you could schedule meetings all the time… but unless I had the schedule for all the committees and all the council meetings, and who was going to be present and who was not, attaching whatever many dates that you wanted to those meetings was not going to do you a bit of good if we had other meetings.”
She added that staff does not schedule any other meetings the same week that the council meets.
“It is not one person that puts the town council meetings together or gets prepared for the meeting, it’s the entire staff,” Underwood said. “This isn’t the Village of Wellington, and this isn’t West Palm Beach. We have seven individuals. Sometimes it takes everybody working together as a team.”
Setting agreeable times for FAAC meeting has been an ongoing challenge.
“I don’t mind attending your meetings,” Underwood said. “I asked you to attend day meetings. Most of our committees have day meetings. I understand, Bruce, that you can’t attend day meetings, so we have the night meetings, but we also have other committees. We have other obligations as well.”
Cuningham said his point was whether the committee had approved the motion or not.
Rockett reiterated that he recalled that Bell, who is also a member of the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Board of Supervisors, had stated that she could not commit to blocking out a meeting each week for the FAAC.
“And that’s fine, but we also discussed and agreed on specific dates that she agreed to, this past Monday, tonight and this coming Wednesday as a backup date,” he said. “That’s not what the minutes say. As far as I’m concerned, we agreed on last Monday, this Monday and this Wednesday in that order.”
Cuningham asked Underwood if she could accept the third Mondays of the month as the regular meeting date for the committee, with the following Monday and Wednesday as backup, but Underwood pointed out that Rockett had reported proposed meeting dates to the council, which had not taken action, and reiterated that Bell had also reported to the council that she could not commit to three meeting dates a month for the FAAC.
“She was very clear about that,” Underwood said.
Cuningham, who was sitting as the chair of the committee at the time, said he recalled looking at Bell when she voted in the affirmative for the three meeting dates, and had said the dates were only if members were available.
“We have the meeting dates already set up,” he said. “That’s all, but you don’t have to block all of those dates, and that’s fine, and she said, ‘OK.’”
“We will correct the minutes if that’s what you so choose,” Underwood said.
Rockett agreed, and Cuningham added that the three dates each month were the plan.
The committee also discussed whether a unanimous 3-0 affirmative vote is needed if only three members are present of the five-member committee. Underwood said she would bring the item up at the next council meeting for confirmation.
Rockett said he would not approve the August meeting minutes until that question is resolved.
After more discussion, Ryan made a motion to set the third Mondays as the committee’s regular meeting date, with the fourth Monday and following Wednesday as backup dates. Cuningham seconded to motion, which carried 3-0.