BOCC Pushes for Two Controversial Approvals Before New Members Sworn In
HERNANDO – And here we go again.
Back in August the Board of County Commissioner’s prepared to vote on an extension of County Administrator Len Sossamon’s contract, for up to five years. When word of the proposed motion reached County Commissioner Jeff Holcomb and other critics, the agenda item was quickly scratched and was “supposed” to be postponed until after the new BOCC was sworn into office. But once again the item is back on the table for tomorrow’s BOCC meeting and this time it’s accompanied by what might be an even more controversial issue.
In addition to the BOCC taking another stab at Sossamon’s 5-year extension, the Board is poised to negotiate a deal with Freedom Energy Hernando, LLC; the company chosen by the Board to undertake a proposed waste-to-energy project.
Waste-to-energy is a process that converts solid waste into energy pellets that can then be burned as fuel to produce electricity. The product is not only a clean burning fuel but it reduces the amount of landfill space. The Green proposal hasn’t drawn criticism over the process; it’s the rush to seal a contract that’s raised a skeptical eyebrow.
Freedom Energy only filed its articles of incorporation last March and that has some questioning why two other well-established companies were not considered.
Only two sitting Commissioners, Jeff Holcomb and James Adkins responded to our request for comment. Holcomb likened the current Board to that of what President-Elect Donald Trump calls members of the “Swamp.” In an a statement Holcomb writes , “On November 8th the country sent a message that they did not like the way government was functioning and chose a career businessman to be the new President. Unfortunately, the BOCC has disregarded that message of change in the way government functions and are showing incredible disrespect to the future BOCC and the citizens of Hernando.” Holcomb continues, “Here’s the truth, the current Board has no justification for making this decision now in their lame-duck status. They are trying to keep the issue from coming up on the May agenda when a new Board will decide if they want to vote on an extension. They are also doing the same thing with the waste to energy vote by tying the hands of a future BOCC. I voted against this company and along with the County staff and everyone in the room that day cannot figure out why this company was chosen.”
Adkins defended Sossamon on Friday, stating “Back when it was taken off the agenda I had quite a few business people who wanted back on the agenda because they know he’s (Len Sossamon) is a good man and they would like to continue to work with him.”
Commissioner-Elect Steve Champion says “I think this Board on their last day should refrain from making major decisions. The waste-to-energy contract and extending the County Administrator’s contract should wait until the new Board is sworn in on Dec 6th. The people of this county want the new commissioners to make these critical decisions that affect our county’s future.”
Commissioners Diane Rowden lost her bid for reelection and Commissioner Jeff Holcomb is on leave due to his deployment overseas as a Naval Reserve Officer. Steve Champion will replace retiring Commissioner Jim Adkins and John Allocco will be step in for what was the lone-Democrat, Diane Rowden.
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