Bob Barnas: Sun off base with High Springs story


Published: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 1:49 a.m.

A Sept. 30 Sun article spoke of the turmoil in High Springs, focusing on the allegations and opinions of a few individuals. These allegations are just that, allegations with one-sided opinions and issues that will be addressed in a court of law.

The High Springs turmoil reported in The Sun focuses on problems and makes it appear that people (staff) have been fired. The fact is there have been layoffs, but no one has been fired. The fact is that the two police chiefs, fire chief and city engineer resigned on their own.

The article did not state that Sharon Yeago — who The Sun quoted as a member of a "non political" group, Concerned Citizens for a Better High Springs — was actually the former head of the local Farmers Market of High Springs, until her contract was not renewed by the commission. It did not reveal that this "non political" group includes current candidate for commission Byran Williams, and former Mayor Larry Travis, both of whom lost the last election. The group is actually a Who's Who of people who have organized, and made political contributions in opposition to me, Mayor Dean Davis and Commissioner Linda Gestrin.

The article focused on turmoil of the current administration. No mention of the true problems we have been finding and fixing.

It did not state that former commissioners and city managers dropped the ball on a $40,000 franchise fee and lost it. No mention of the bad investments and decisions that gave the city almost $500,000 in financial losses. No mention was made about how past officials padded the budget numbers to make revenues appear much higher than they really were.

No mention of how some former city officials tried to divert $2,466,800 in federal tax dollars from a loan/grant and got caught by the USDA-RD. Leaving a $2,466,800 hole our impact fee fund. And the article omitted the fact that our insurance was also raised in large part, because of $365,000 in old lawsuit payouts over the past three years.

The paper should have reported that High Springs has three brave commissioners in Mayor Davis, Vice Mayor Barnas and Commissioner Gestrin, who looked at all the numbers. Who ordered a forensic audit of the CRA funds (that is still in progress). Who found huge financial mistakes and potential fraud, and took the steps to correct them.

We did not raise property tax millage. Instead, we made some hard decisions and cut the budget and brought health insurance, life and disability and dental plan contributes in line. When you run for office and state you will not raise taxes, cut a budget, reduce the size and cost of government and fight financial fraud, nothing gets written or put on TV or the radio. Apparently this is not news.

Please understand this truth about High Springs: Mayor Davis, Commissioner Gestrin and I have held to line on spending, cuts the budget and kept our promise to the taxpayers who elected us.

We did not speak with a forked tongue or run to win a popularity contest with a small group of people who no longer get their way and who would have continued to spend tax dollars foolishly.

We did not run for office to please the press. And most of all we will not back down.

This "real" truth needs to be said.

Bob Barnas is vice mayor of High Springs.

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