Consenting to the Consent Agenda

GEORGE GARDNERHistoric City News has been outspoken in its criticism of the practice of using a “consent agenda” to dispose of matters of business before the county and city commission; without much public attention to the items being approved — many of which involve substantial amounts of money.

Former St Augustine mayor George Gardner has also expressed his criticism of the practice by the St Augustine city commission; Monday night’s commission meeting became the topic of a recent posting in his neighborhood newsletter, The St Augustine Report.

The consent agenda, which includes items City Manager John Regan feels don’t require discussion, was routinely approved Monday without discussion, until Vice Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline asked, “Can’t we at least read the items by title?”

Regan consented to returning to that former procedure; then came discussions on two of the agenda’s nine items: a $71,830 fee to Prosser Hallock Inc., to prepare a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) plan for Lincolnville (that would be the complete cost), and a Bad Debt Write-off on some $70,000 in utility billings.

City Comptroller Mark Litzinger said the amount is about average, and the write-off is more effective than pursuing the debts through collection agencies.