Current members of the Escambia Children's Trust cannot vote or make decisions until the rest of their board of directors is appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis.
Last November, voters approved the establishment of the Children's Trust, which is to be financed by increasing ad valorem taxes by a maximum of 0.5 million. The Trust will provide early childhood education, safety, development, prevention, health and wellness services, including after-school and summer enrichment programs.
Five members have been appointed to the board to fill positions required by state law – Patty Hightower, Director of the Department for Children and Families in the Northwest Region, Walter Sachs, Judge Jennifer Frydrychowicz, Lumon May, Escambia County Commissioner, and Escambia County School District Leader Dr. Tim Smith.
The Escambia County Commission is expected to announce the names of other candidates for five additional seats in the governor's office later this week, according to district administrator Janice Gilley. DeSantis will make its selection within 45 days.
The five current members of the Children's Meeting held a public meeting Monday night but received legal advice not to take action without a 10-person board.
"My personal opinion, which is not necessarily advice to all of you, but my personal opinion that I achieved was that respectful (you are) maybe a little ahead," Alison Rogers (pictured left) told of the Escambia prosecutor's office members "That's just my personal opinion."
The board of directors cannot currently hire its own lawyer because it cannot vote. However, the Escambia County Commission has offered the use of county staff.
"The very act that created the Children's Services Trust talks about all of the things you must all do while you speak and work," said Rogers. “And everyone is talking about doing these things immediately after the 'members' are appointed, not some members, not a functioning group of members, not half of the members, not the de facto members . It says the members. "
"Well for me, if you put all three factors together," said Rogers before pausing. "Maybe it is a better idea to see what the governor does."
“We want to be legal. We want to do it in full sunshine. We want to be as transparent as possible because what we've set up has to work and it has to be a workable process, ”said Hightower (pictured above), CEO. “We all strive to get money into the hands of our community. We know there is a lot of need out there and there are many people who are suffering. We don't want to get it wrong. We want to make sure that what we do is in the best interests of everyone involved. "
The Children's Trust Board is facing a time crisis to meet the July 1st deadline for setting a millage rate. If this deadline is not met, they will not be able to collect any tax money until 2022.
"Let's move this forward as soon as possible, but I am not politically cornered by anyone who says we have to do it as soon as possible," May said. "Poverty and crime have been around for 30 years. So if it takes another three or four months to get it right, then we should get it right. "
"You can't go back if you don't start with a solid foundation," May added.
Posted by William Reynolds · Filed under TOP STORIES