No lunch bills for two months

Published 10:53 am Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Supervisors in Charlotte County have deviated from their usual practice of eating lunch before their monthly meeting and paying for the meals with the county’s money.

According to information in supervisors’ board meeting packet, lunch was scheduled a little afternoon before their Feb. 14 meeting. For this meeting, board documents noted lunch was provided by a business — one that wants to remain unnamed, according to one supervisor.

The county didn’t pay for the February lunch — nor the January one.

“I didn’t eat, so I am not sure,” said Drakes Branch Supervisor and Board Vice Chairman Garland H. Hamlett Jr. said of the lunch.

“As far as I know, this was just for February’s meeting,” County Purchasing Agent and Planner Monica Elder said of the food being provided for the meeting.

“There are no lunch receipts for the January (and) February board of supervisors’ meetings,” Elder said.

According to information provided by the County Administrator R.B. Clark’s office, receipts show the county spent approximately $447 from September to December on lunch items.

Receipts included lunches from Mimmo’s, Sheldon’s Motel and Restaurant and Village Drive In. In addition, miscellaneous, items such as soft drinks, potato chips and coffee were purchased from Dollar General. Elder said the purchased items were associated with supervisors’ lunches.

Concerns regarding supervisors’ eating lunch on the taxpayers’ dime were first aired by a citizen in 2015.

Last July, a petition circulated across the county, which over 800 people communicated their desires against the board spending county money on lunches. The petition was created by Kay Pierantoni and Ludy Collie, both residents of Charlotte County.

“The fact that the supervisors continue to eat lunch on the taxpayer’s dime is a definitive example of how they are not listening to the citizens of Charlotte County,” Pierantoni said. At every meeting (except December) since we first presented the petition in July, I have spoken to the board, reminding them of the request of the taxpayers. Two have stopped eating, but they all vote to approve the expenditures each month. All seven people on the board have ignored the request of the taxpayers.”

In a Feb. 16 email exchange between Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Warren Weston and Pierantoni, Weston said he did not know who lunch was provided by before the Feb. 14 board meeting.

He said the business wants to remain anonymous.

In July, Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Haywood Hamlet told The Gazette, “I love Charlotte County, I’d do anything I can for Charlotte County,” said Hamlet. “Nobody appreciates the good that we do, they’re just looking for something bad. It hurts; it hurts, but I’m not a quitter. It makes me want to fight harder.”