LAUREL HILL — The City Council unanimously set a Dec. 11 town hall meeting at First Baptist Church of Laurel Hill, pending the church’s approval, to discuss whether it should dissolve the area’s city status.
The topic arose after resident Harold Jones addressed the council about many roads within city limits in need of repair.
"I think its time we looked at this realistically," Jones said. "The roads are a problem, have been a problem, and will continue to be a problem."
Jones said he has met with Okaloosa County officials several times about getting assistance in fixing the roads, without success.
He suggested removing the "city" title from Laurel Hill, making it an unincorporated community.
Jones suggested the issue come before residents in the next election cycle. Council Vice President Robby Adams motioned to begin the process of having an option to vote on the city charter’s dissolution on the next ballot.
"It’s time to let the citizens make a decision," Adams said.
Council member Betty Williamson seconded Adams’ motion, which passed.
Clifton Hall, a new city council member sworn in before the meeting, disagreed with the motion.
"I'm not happy about it ... my feelings are to help Laurel Hill to stay a city," he said after the meeting.
Larry Hendren, Williamson, Adams and Hall voted in favor of the motion. Willie Mae Toles was absent.
Adams’ motion to begin proceedings for possible dissolution was necessary to draft an ordinance for the March ballot.
"Before the council can get the ball rolling, they have to get the citizens’ input in a town hall meeting," city attorney Daniel Campbell said. Should the council proceed with drafting the ordinance, its leaders must work with the Okaloosa County tax collector's office to ensure they follow procedures and make the March ballot.
"They have to follow the Florida statutes," Campbell said, referencing a chapter that covers dissolution procedures. The section states a "notice of an election shall be published at least once a week for two consecutive weeks prior to the election in a newspaper or general circulation of a municipality."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.