New Mayor David Baublits managed to get off on the wrong foot by announcing he had hired Seth Boettcher as Eatonville’s public works director — without the approval of the Eatonville Town Council.
“So, we received an email about two hours ago advising us that a public works director’s first day was today,” Councilmember Bill Dunn said at the Jan. 24 regular meeting of the Eatonville Town Council.
Dunn noted the base salary of this position was $120,000 plus benefits before asking Baublits if he could cite an ordinance that allowed him to approve such a hire without the OK of the council.
Baublits said he could not cite any such ordinance.
“So, on what basis then do you believe that it was within your authority to hire a public works director without first obtaining some type of approval from the council?” Dunn asked.
Baublits defended his actions, saying he “wasn’t going to wait around for the process to fully prove out when I knew that we needed somebody in there.”
Dunn retorted, “I’m not inclined to authorize an allocation of taxpayer dollars to pay for expenses associated with an unapproved position.”
He called the mayor’s actions a “cart-before-the-horse scenario."
Councilmember Robert Thomas agreed with Dunn that any such hire can’t be done without approval of the council.
Despite the executive versus legislative clash, cooler heads prevailed at the suggestion of Dunn and Councilmember Emily McFadden that a special meeting of the town council be held to address the matter.
A special virtual town council meeting to approve the new public works director contract has since been set for 7 p.m. Monday.
The council passed an ordinance for a change to the town’s municipal code allowing detached accessory dwelling units based on a recommendation by the Planning Commission as part of plan to expand affordable housing in single-family zones.
Thomas echoed his comments from the first reading of the ordinance earlier this month.
“I’ve got the Town of Eatonville official zoning maps sitting here in front of me, and I’m trying to figure out how, if we approve everybody’s ability to put a 500-square-foot accessory dwelling unit in their back yard, how we don’t turn Eatonville into a barrio of Mexico City,” he said.
The council passed a resolution approving and accepting a $410,148 grant from the Transportation Improvement Board to be used for improving Carter Street West from Antonie Avenue North to Orchard Avenue North.
McFadden was approved as the chair of the Public Safety Committee and as a member of the Ad Hoc Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.
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