By Steve Plunkett
At least one alderwoman will stay on the dais next year, but different people will fill two and perhaps more of the Town Council’s six seats.
Mayor Gene Adams and Town Council President Christina Adams have resigned effective Dec. 15, avoiding a new state requirement to reveal in detail their personal finances.
How the council will fill those spots is an open question. It is scheduled to meet only once more this year, on Dec. 7, though one or more special meetings could be called.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve the town of Briny Breezes,” Christina Adams wrote in her resignation letter, which was read aloud along with her husband’s at the council’s Oct. 26 meeting.
Alderwoman Liz Loper took the opposite tack.
“I am staying on board. I’m fine, not going to resign,” she said.
State law now requires local elected officials holding office on Dec. 31 to list their net worth, assets and liabilities in detail next July. The electronic paperwork, called the Full
Disclosure of Financial Interests, or Form 6, has for years been a requirement for Florida’s governor, state legislators, county commissioners and school board members.
Local officials, on the other hand, submitted a Statement of Financial Interests, or Form 1, which asks for information in broad brushstrokes. Mayor Adams, for example, on his Form 1 for 2020 reported that his primary source of income was his job at Target Corp. and that he has a 401(k) retirement account and owns Target and Pfizer stock.
The new Form 6 requirement has created a time crunch in Briny Breezes.
The Adamses and Alderwoman Kathy Gross were already up for reelection in March, with qualifying set for Nov. 14-28. Town Attorney Keith Davis encouraged the other council members to decide as soon as possible if they will stay or quit.
“The elephant in the room is the question of OK, are there residents in the town who will be willing to be Form 6 filers,” he said.
Davis said under the Town Charter, the council does not need a quorum to appoint people to fill council vacancies, though he said having a quorum would be preferable.
The council passed a resolution “expressing opposition” to the new disclosure requirement. It also told Davis to prepare resolutions to ask the supervisor of elections for an additional election qualifying period the first two weeks of January and to raise the limit on Town Manager Bill Thrasher’s spending authorization so he could pay for more things without council approval.
Susan Brannen, president of the Briny Breezes Inc. board, was much in favor of having a second qualifying period for candidates.
“We don’t have everybody in Briny at this point, so it’s very hard to reach out and inform our Briny residents of what’s happening. And this would perhaps give additional time for people who are truly interested in stepping forward,” Brannen said.
In other business, the council approved paying consultant Engenuity Group Inc. $265,000 to perform what Thrasher called “the next level” of planning for Briny’s proposed sea wall and drainage improvement project.
“We’ve not heard any word on our construction grant (application) which is $14.4 million,” Thrasher said.