Controversial golf cart to be sold

  w_-_Golf_CartHIGH SPRINGS – With High Springs’ takeover of Poe Springs Park pushed back indefinitely, the City Commission decided on Thursday to sell a golf cart, which was purchased by City Manager Jeri Langman under direction of one of the commissioners.  Since its purchase, the golf cart has generated significant controversy within the community.

At Thursday’s commission meeting, Commissioner Sue Weller said Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas requested a purchase order from Langman on March 21, which was the day after the commission announced that further expenditures on Poe Springs Park should cease. At the March 20 workshop, it was reported that reconstruction of the steps leading into Poe Springs would take longer to finish than anticipated and the commission discussed not moving forward with an agreement with Alachua County to manage the park.

“We are pinching every penny we could possibly find, but we are going to buy a $1,700 golf cart,” Commissioner Scott Jamison said. “That’s a toy.”

He moved to sell the golf cart, and Weller seconded. The motion passed, with only Mayor Dean Davis and Barnas voting against it.

Prior to the decision, Commissioner Linda Gestrin asked if there were any other areas where the cart could be put to use, but Langman said she didn’t know of any. While Barnas said he could think of a dozen different places to use the cart, he was not opposed to selling the cart if the money could be put toward a merit raise for a city employee.

Barnas purchased the golf cart for $1,700 from a private individual, which he said at Thursday’s meeting was a good deal. He said he had been looking at golf carts online and in person, but had not found the cart he wished to buy.

Weller placed the golf cart issue on the May 10 commission agenda after Barnas was accused of allegedly “parading” around in the golf cart by a High Springs resident in a published letter to the editor.  Barnas countered by saying he had used the golf cart to clean up broken glass he found in the parking lot on April 22 during a local event, “Music in the Park.”

“This is not about the golf cart itself,” Weller said. “This is about making a purchase knowing that we would probably not be going forward with Poe Springs.”

While the golf cart purchase was $200 over budget, Mayor Davis said there had been funds budgeted for expenditures on Poe Springs.

Even though Weller quoted Davis saying during an earlier meeting that expenditures should stop, Davis said Langman had the authority to make purchases as long as they are under a certain threshold.

“This commission is a body,” Weller said. “We do not, as an individual, have the right to circumvent the commission.”

She added that, if she had the ability, she would attempt to censure Barnas for his actions.