Historic City News finds that the new fiscal year has brought one change for the trio of city employees responsible for producing the 450th Commemoration — at least for the man the city says has “the unique and necessary qualifications” to provide guidelines to the City Commission to properly prepare them for the event.
Charles Robert Seraphin, the man who up until October 1st was carried on the city payroll as a “marketing specialist” and was being paid a salary of $72,000 a year, has been made an “independent contractor” and is now being paid a fee of $78,000 a year.
One more time, Seraphin is being retained by the city to act as a “Professional Consultant” for work associated with the “fundraising and the planning and execution of its 450th commemoration of the founding of the City of St Augustine”.
According to the recitals included in the contract drawn by City Attorney Ronald W. Brown, the City Commission of the City of St Augustine says that they require the “expertise of consultants intimately familiar and specifically qualified” in order to be properly prepared to pull off the commemoration.
This decision despite the fact that, during the past year, Seraphin was unsuccessful in his fundraising mission.
None the less, the contract says Seraphin’s “experience and background … provides him with the unique and necessary qualifications to provide the required consultation and guidance to the city”.
An interesting remark appears in the contract that presupposes as a fact, a critical point being argued outside the four walls of City Hall. The contract says “the CITY owes a duty to its citizens to protect and perpetuate the historical resources of the CITY and to foster the communication to the public of the historical foundations of the CITY”.
There is a great deal of controversy over whether or not it is the City of St Augustine’s “duty” to produce the 450th commemoration; or, if the city taxpayers should be forced to pay for it. Many residents feel that communicating the founding of the city could have been better accomplished by private citizens; using only donated funds to the extent they were able to raise them — as was the case in the celebration of the 400th anniversary.
“It is the city’s duty to provide for public safety, passable roads, and a healthy environment in which to live and work,” Michael Gold, a student of Public Administration and editor of Historic City News was quoted. “It may be the city’s choice to provide this commemoration, but appropriating public funds to pay for it, is overreaching their duty.”
Photo credits: © 2013 Historic City News