With a new face on the board, a new Collier County Commission majority block agreed Tuesday to reconsider some of the decisions made by the old guard.
Commission Chairwoman Georgia Hiller, Vice Chairman Tom Henning and new Commissioner Tim Nance voted to allow motions to be made by commissioners to reconsider items as many times as they want in the two meetings following the initial vote. That is provided that the commissioner asking for reconsideration first voted in the majority.
In all, commissioners voted to bring back 17 items for reconsideration in January, including employee contracts and contracts for the Marco Island Runway project. Henning previously said he wanted to reconsider several items because of new information and because he voted on some items he now believes are not in the public's interest.
"If these reconsiderations aren't punishment to our citizens, I don't know what is," said Commissioner Fred Coyle, who voted against the decision along with Fiala. "This is exactly the thing (Hiller, Henning and Nance) were saying they don't want to do. They are punishing employees and threatening to cancel contracts or delay contracts.
"None of that is good for Collier County."
Henning said he sought to clarify the commissions' rules. But Coyle said Henning was not interpreting the rules, but changing them.
The standard practice has been to allow a motion to reconsider an item only once, Coyle said. When a county ordinance is not clear on an issue, he said the county defaults to Robert's Rules of Order, which is considered the standard for governmental meetings and allows for only one reconsideration.
Nance said in the areas that apply to boards, some portions of Robert's Rules of Order are inappropriate. For example, they do not allow the chair of the board to second a motion or participate in debate, which the Collier commissioners do.
"Saying we default to Robert's Rules of Order is disingenuous," he said. "It's also disingenuous to make motions and seconds and vote against your own motion and second it because you want to prevent another commissioner from discussing it.
"All members have the right to change their minds."
Attorney Bruce Anderson, who represents the Hideaway Beach Tax District — which has a grant for erosion control structures on the list for reconsideration — said there needs to be a limit to how many times an item can be reconsidered.
"You have to ask yourselves, when is a final decision final?" he said.
The commissioners then went through the items Henning and Hiller had placed on the agenda for reconsideration. The majority of the votes split 3-2, with Coyle and Fiala voting against them.
Fiala warned that Tuesday's moves could lead to lawsuits against the county.
"We're going to lose grants," she said. "The taxpayers are going to be stuck with what's left in the ashes."
Items the Collier County commissioners voted to bring back in January for reconsideration:
■ A recommendation to extend Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Penny Phillippi’s contract for three years and make changes to the contract.
■ A recommendation that the Collier County CRA Board designates the Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency executive director as the special district registered agent for the Collier County CRA.
■ A recommendation to the county commissioners, acting as the CRA board, to authorize the continued operation of the Immokalee Business Development Center under the auspice of the Immokalee CRA exclusive of the partnership with the Collier County Airport Authority and the Immokalee Airport.
■ A recommendation that the county commissioners acting as the CRA approve amending the Immokalee Business Development Center’s proposal, IBDC application and IBDC policies and procedures handbook.
■ A recommendation to award a contract for the First Street Zocalo for Immokalee to David Cordban Architect, Inc. with a fiscal impact of $113,450.
■ A recommendation to extend Collier County Airport Authority Executive Director Chris Curry’s contract to Sept. 30, 2015, and amend the agreement to comport with Florida statutes.
■ A recommendation to memorialize the Oct. 23 extension of and amendments to Collier County Airport Authority Executive Director Chris Curry’s employment agreement.
■ A recommendation that the commissioners approve a contract for design and related services for the Immokalee Regional Airport runway rehabilitation project in the amount of $761,000 with Hole Montes, Inc.
■ A recommendation that the commissioner approve design and related services for the Marco Island Executive Airport runway rehabilitation project in the amount of $660,000 with Hole Montes, Inc.
■ A recommendation to adopt a resolution terminating the employment agreement with Ian Mitchell, the executive manager to the county commissioners.
■ A recommendation to discuss Item 11E from the board’s Sept. 11, 2012, agenda regarding wastewater basin program contracts.
■ A recommendation to consider a Tourist Development Council grant application from the City of Marco Island/Hideaway Beach District for erosion control structures at Hideaway Beach.
■ A recommendation to review and approve the 2012 combines annual update and inventory report on public facilities and capital improvement element amendment as provided for in the Collier County Land Development Code.
■ A recommendation to approve an interlocal agreement relating to the establishment of the Gulf Consortium to act on behalf of Collier County in the implementation of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability Tourist Opportunities and Revised Economics of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012.
■ A recommendation to appoint a member of the Collier County Planning Commission.
■ A recommendation to approve the final beach access sign renderings for instillation throughout the Gulf Shore Drive corridor for direct public beach access via county easements.
■ A recommendation to consider options for restructuring the county commissioners office.