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'I've heard enough': No public comments allowed during heated Loxahatchee Groves meeting

Posted at 12:01 AM, Oct 31, 2018

Several of Loxahatchee Groves community members are frustrated with how the town is run by the town manager Bill Underwood.

“There’s no accountability," said Robert Shorr.

RELATED: Loxahatchee Groves residents fear town may dissolve

Council member Joyce Batcheler agreed the town is facing issues.

“We have some serious problems,” Batcheler said. “We have problems with no money. We now have problems with possibly no police.”

During Tuesday’s workshop, Underwood’s contract was up for discussion but the public was not allowed to comment after council voted three to two against it, including Batcheler, the mayor and vice mayor.

“I’ve heard enough,” said Vice Mayor Todd McLendon.” I’ve heard from the people. I know what their concerns are. I don’t need to hear it again for the 50th time.”

Loxahatchee Groves does things differently. It’s one of only two towns in the state that has outsourced everything to a private company. That company is headed by Bill Underwood.

“We’re not a typical town,” said Mayor David Browning.

The idea behind the unusual setup was to save money on big expenses such as retirement and insurance costs for employees.

Eight years after hiring Underwood Management some on council feel like it’s time to move on.

“No, it’s not working,” said Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia.

The Inspector General’s Office called over $220,000 in spending into question. Their report said the town overpaid Underwood over $10,000.

The mayor said the OIG simply didn’t understand the town’s unique system.

Browning said, “They had questions because they weren’t familiar with it.”

Reporter: “They had more than questions, they said it would put the town at risk.”

Browning said, “Well, they say it has.”

There are also concerns over nepotism since Underwood hired his son and wife.

“It’s not an ethics violation because the ethics rules don’t apply to a private company,” McLendon said.

Underwood did not get back to Contact 5’s request for an interview.

The town recently renewed the contract by a three to two vote.

During Tuesday’s workshop, several options seemed to be back on the table as council is deciding how to move forward.