At a workshop on Tuesday, Mexico Beach city administrator Chris Hubbard announced that he’d be resigning his position effective next Friday, April 4.
“Mexico Beach was a great place to work,” said Hubbard. “We accomplished a lot of positive things in my seven and a half years.
“We did what’s best for the city and citizens and I’m still planning to stay involved in the community.”
Councilmembers Jack Mullen and Gary Woodham wished Hubbard the best of luck in his future endeavors and Mayor Al Cathey thanked him for his years of service to the city.
“I appreciate Mr. Hubbard's decision to step down and to allow our city to move forward,” said Councilwoman Tanya Castro. “If you consider the Parker House debacle and our stormwater issues among others, I believe the people of Mexico Beach clearly recognize the fundamental failure of leadership.
“This is about personal choices leading to professional missteps and whether a city administrator has the skills and experience necessary to do the job the taxpayers are paying him to do.”
A special meeting will be scheduled to tie up any loose ends and discuss how the city will move forward to find Hubbard’s replacement.
People’s South Bank of Georgia will move forward in purchasing the building that currently houses city employees. The closing date on the building is set for mid-May and the buyers have expressed an interest in moving in as soon as possible and city hall employees have been asked to vacate the property by June.
Several vacant buildings were explored as temporary options but were tossed out due to size or rent costs. Top choices include moving into the Civic Center or the recently completed Public Works building.
Hubbard said if the city chose to use the Civic Center, the structure would need outfitted with the proper wiring to allow access to the city’s network and an alternate location for meetings would need to be explored.
The Public Works building already has the necessary network connections but size restrictions could make it difficult to house all employees under one roof.
Police Chief Glenn Norris offered up the training room inside the old police station.
Norris said it would be large enough to accommodate the city employees and the network connections already existed. Because the room operates on a different air conditioning and heating system, it was free of the mold that infects the rest of the structure.
Cathey discussed the possibility of writing a letter to People’s South to ask for an extension in leaving the property. He said that the end of October was more realistic and if the bank declined the request they should counteroffer for the end of July.
He asked members of the council to brainstorm ideas and they could discuss further at next week’s pre-agenda meeting.
Castro encouraged her fellow councilmembers to make an immediate decision on where to move rather than wait a week and lose valuable time.
Hubbard said he would investigate the logistics behind moving into either of the city buildings and the council agreed that it would decide on an extension date and send the letter after deciding which destination would make the most sense.
“If we’re going to move pronto, we don’t want to ask for an extension we don’t need or we’ll be obligated to pay the rent,” said Cathey.
An executive session planned for the end of the month to discuss final numbers on the new city hall has been canceled in favor of a public meeting.
The meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT on Monday, March 31 at the Civic Center.
The cost of the planned 3,200 square foot city hall will be made public and discussion will be held with attorney Dion Moniz and Brian Cathey, who currently holds the construction bid.
Woodham believes that the insurance company owes additional money on the claim despite a $174,000 settlement offer and sought legal counsel with Moniz.
According to the insurance policy, if two appraisers can’t agree on the value of the claim, a third will be hired by a court and the two appraisals that have the closest results would prevail.
This step would have to be completed before starting any type of litigation.
Until now, the cost of the new city hall had not been made public despite outcry from citizens.
“Nobody’s trying to hide anything,” said Woodham. “We want you to have everything the council has.
“It will be presented on the 31st and you’ll all know what we know.”
The damaged Parker House still stands despite the council voting to proceed with demolition. According to Woodham, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection required a permit which delayed demolition by 10 days. Demolition is now expected to be complete by April 2.
Public Works open house
An open house for the recently completed Public Works building will be held from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. CT on Wednesday, April 2. The public is invited to tour the facility located at 114 N. 22nd St. in Mexico Beach.