Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
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Financial advisory panel disbanded

ISLAMORADA -- The Village Council, which empaneled the Citizens' Financial Advisory Committee last year ostensibly in order to serve as an extra check on the town's books, has allowed it to disband.

"It is virtually impossible for somebody to have an auditing committee that has to function under sunshine," said Vice Mayor Ken Philipson at the Thursday, Nov. 26 Village Council meeting, referencing the state's open-meeting Sunshine Law.

Last year Philipson was the main champion of forming the committee as a way to beef up public trust.

The council established the committee ahead of a petition-driven audit, which the Florida Auditor General's Office began last summer and completed in March. But during its yearlong run, the board kept the three-person committee on a tight leash.

Last September the council accused the committee of overreach after it members began efforts to probe village staffing levels and staff responsibilities. One member eventually resigned and the committee never met after November.

Under the financial committee's charter resolution, it needed a 4-1 vote of the Village Council to be reconvened for the next 12 months. The council voted 5-0 to let it sunset.

Also last week, the council unanimously supported a deal consolidating the court cases it is fighting with Cheeca Lodge Spa over sewer assessments.

Islamorada's largest resort sued the village in September in an effort to block the $20 million assessment passed by the town last summer. Cheeca also sued in 2008 to challenge that year's $2.6 million sewer system planning assessment.

Under the deal, both parties have agreed to abide by the outcome of a court action filed by the village in December, asking a judge to determine whether the assessment is valid.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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