No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

With Curt Emphasis on “NOW,” Palm Coast Mayor Wants Radio Answers from County

| March 2, 2016

palm coast mayor jon netts barbara revels

Unusually terse. (© FlaglerLive)

Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts wants answers from the county regarding the county’s future plans for the emergency communications system almost all local governments rely on. And he wants them “NOW!” (his caps, repeated five times in a two-page letter).

For Netts, usually a model of decorum and grace, it was an unusually curt and demanding letter written over his signature last week, the more so as it was directed at County Commission Chairwoman Barbara Revels and copied to other county commissioners and elected members of every local city. The sheriff was not included in the batch.

Netts then, after outlining several issues of planning and questioning the county’s lack of answers on the issues, he asked for “a series of meetings between the Board of County Commissioners and the cities within Flagler County to discuss these issues.”

Revels or the county have not responded yet. But in an interview Wednesday, she did not take to one of Netts’s intimations. “My impression was that his letter is indicating that the city plans, and the county doesn’t, and that they want to plan and they don’t have answers to planning,” Revels said. “That’s my impression of the letter. Certainly, we plan as well, and we all need to understand what the plan is. I’m not sure how concerned any of the other cities are because they have very small exposure as to what their needs are.”

The tone of the letter reflected the same tone of a simmering stand-off between Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon and County Administrator Craig Coffey over the future of the so-called 800 Mhz radio system, on which firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, Bunnell and Flagler Beach police rely, as well as other county and city employees.

The system is ageing. The county is planning a replacement by 2020, even though the vendor for the system will no longer produce parts past 2017, though the county says it has assurances from its maintenance contractor that parts will not be lacking, and the system will function reliably even past 2020 if necessary.

Questions delivered with wagging finger and copied to other city leaders.

Landon has been unhappy with the pace of the county’s move toward a new system. Netts’s letter reflects a more precise and only slightly more measured summation of Landon’s concerns. In a closed-door meeting with county officials and the sheriff last month, people who attended the meeting said Landon spoke of the possibility of leaving the system and returning Palm Coast to its own communications infrastructure, as it was before 2003. It was not the sort of decision Landon was in position to make or float, as it entails a policy shift his council would have to approve, and his council has yet to discuss these matters beyond passing mentions. Landon again intimated, in a council meeting later in February, that the city might go its own way, setting up its own meetings with other municipalities and the sheriff whether the county was willing to join in or not, though the sheriff’s office quickly said it had no intention of leaving the county’s system.

The city, too, has since retreated from what appears to have been mere posturing.

“Contrary to what you may have read in the local media,” Netts told Revels in his opening lines, “Palm Coast has no desire to implement its own 800 megahertz radio system, separate and apart from that of the County. We wish to remain a part of a comprehensive, county-wide communications system that serves the needs of all local governments and their various departments.”

It would be at any rate prohibitively expensive for Palm Coast to have its own system. So it must rely on the county’s, which pays for it all, and as such, is not in as convincing a position to dictate to the county how to handle the system.

Yet Netts then went on to raise questions about the way the county is—and is not—addressing the move to the next-generation communications system—whether new towers will be needed (especially if some of those towers are to be located inside Palm Coast city limits, an issue the council would have to deal with directly), whether the new system’s coverage effectiveness will also raise costs, and what costs the radios that attach to the new system will be (the only cost users must pay, separately from the county).

Click On:

The system’s backbone infrastructure consists of five communication towers and equipment the county pays for and maintains at significant cost: $10 million to buy in 2003, $448,000 a year to operate, including $160,000 a year in leases for use of three of the communication towers and $250,000 in preventive maintenance. Some 2,000 radios are dependent on the system. The county doesn’t yet want to incur a new debt for a new system because its annual payments for the existing system, of $841,000, don’t end until October 2020. Kevin Guthrie, the county’s former emergency management chief who initiated numerous discussions on the radio system, said it would be financially unnecessary and imprudent to incur new debt now.

That has not concerned Palm Coast as much, since Palm Coast would not be carrying that debt. So the city has brandished the specter of potential failures and the endangerment of government employees to pressure the county into acting. Netts in his letter cited the need for new radios: “We need a specific plan, NOW, to deal with the costs and timing of this radio upgrade to assure our future financial obligations will be fully funded,” Netts wrote, even though Landon said the city is already planning for such upgrades, while the city’s finance director confirmed the city is “accumulating $249,100 per year in order to fund the replacement and maintenance of our radios and other communications infrastructure owned by the city.”

In other words, the city’s part of the financial plan is in place.

Netts also raised questions about future capacity expansion on the communications system, alluding to–but not getting into–a different issue altogether, and one in which city and county claim each is currently in default of an agreement between the two governments.

“I believe the best way to answer these and other questions is to convene meetings, NOW,” Netts concluded, continuing with the capitalized shouts, “involving ALL participants in the new system. Certainly, as users of the system, you would want our input on the fundamental issues such as the new system standard, etc. Once this is determined, the other questions can be properly answered.”

Revels isn’t so sure that some of those answers haven’t already been provided (the county commission had its first extensive briefing on the issue in 2013).

“I want to go line item by line item with what I believe were the responses that Kevin Guthrie provided to the city with his presentation,” Revels said, “and what has been stated again and again, but I want to do it in a very methodical, fact-based presentation. I’m not opposed at all to meeting with the cities as has been requested, because we used to do that, and I actually think it’s a good opportunity if there are topics that cross boundaries of cities and school, it’s a great way to share information or study issues.”

Mayor Jon Netts’s Letter to County Commission Chairwoman Barbara Revels.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

13 Responses for “With Curt Emphasis on “NOW,” Palm Coast Mayor Wants Radio Answers from County”

  1. YankeeExPat says:

    No offence to Mayor Netts office, but county Administrator Craig Coffey is the Teflon Don of Flagler County, and cannot and will not be lectured or judged by likes of some uppity Palm Coasters.

  2. Geezer says:

    Man, what an atrocious necktie. It makes Mr. Netts complexion seem too ruddy,
    as if he’s embarrassed or suffering from a sudden hot flash….
    I suspect that Richard Blackwell would have a field day with Mr. Netts.

    I recommend a solid red tie (a darker red, maybe burgundy) which would have
    gone better with the gray jacket and compliment a man of his considerable years.
    He would do well to point his browser to:

    But before anything: throw that busy tie away before someone hurls their lunch.

  3. confidential says:

    Mayor correct this time!!

  4. Tom Jacks says:

    Jim Landon and his puppet Jon Netts, two losers that think they know what’s best for in their opinion, us poor uneducated and morally bankrupt citizens. I only hope the citizens elect new members to the city council that finally do the right thing and fire Landon. Tar and fethering these two would be to good for them.

  5. Dennis McDonald says:

    Mr Mayor.

    Your cause for concern is well founded and yes Mr Guthrie did a great job of opening the awareness to Flagler County’s critical weak spot back some THREE years ago. County Chair Revels now wants to go “line by line” on the “old news” apparently attempting to get deeper into what Mr Guthrie said. Really, might the reason Mr Guthrie LEFT be because he saw this BOCC would not address the soon to come train wreck and as the Director of Emergency preparedness the BOCC neglect would look real bad on his “plate” ? Mr Guthrie is a very smart fellow so let us learn from his actions.

    The bad news Mr Mayor is that County Chair Revels has been too busy refiling DOE Form 6X and restating her Income on section D in 2012 from 77,000 to 308,000 and in 2013 from 67,000 to 196,000. These new forms were HAND delivered 2/15/2016, what is the new sense of urgency? Seems like that 9 month old Ethics complaint by Mr Ruffalo just will not go away even with the BOCC using taxpayer $$ engaging the “Sultan of Ethics” Mr Herron *see attached* from The Home of Ethics in Florida, Tallahassee FL. It has always been a big mystery why County Chair Revels was able to secure a increased credit line from IntraCoastal Bank in 2013 with this meager amount of income with a $97,000 increased credit line. This all just by chance happened weeks prior to her placing the motion on the floor and then voting to buy the $1.23 million old hospital that Commissioner Hanns stated in 2001 was not worthy of consideration by the County ! Unfortunately for the taxpayers Commissioner Hanns changed his MIND. Let us all remember that County Chair Barbara Revels received the LARGEST Ethics fine in Flagler History but has no shame and refiled to run , AGAIN !

    Good luck on keeping her focus Mr Mayor, I hope you can employ some of your training in language arts to help Ms. Revels in her line by line COMPREHENSION. If that fails your option is to hope that the County residents will elect someone who WILL, comprehend. I recently met Michael Groves a candidate for District 3 BOCC and when I was introduced I inquired what made him run ?
    Answer “Ms Revels attitude”,SHOCKING !

  6. r&r says:

    I agree with Netts and the council should get behind him and support him. Coffey is the blockage because he’s making money ignoring the city. The ONLY issue that Coffey will approve or assist in if it means a financial lining his pockets,

  7. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot says:

    Mayor Netts, I believe I have discovered the very nature of your problem…

    You are sending all of your correspondence to County Commissioners…

    You need to send them to the people ACTUALLY in charge – Craig Coffey and administration.

  8. r&r says:

    If you’re going to send Coffey anything it should be an arrest warrent.

  9. obi wan says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought previous reports said the city (of Palm Coast) stopped paying ‘dues’ to the county towards the radio system, so I don’t see where the city thinks it has a say. Pay your back ‘dues’ then come to the table. It’s all easy to run your mouth (or fingers) yet where do they think this money is coming from? US taxpayers. PC can’t afford it, but they’re ‘pushing’ for change? someone’s looking for a kickback..This town is clueless to this radio upgrade farce and the waste of money that’s coming, yet teachers & public safety personnel can’t get decent pay. I’ll leave it at that for the time being…

  10. Joe wants to know says:

    Thank you Dennis McDonald for enlightening us. It’s no wonder why Attorney Hadeed wants to stifle those filing complaints by wanting to get in their pocketbook.
    How can Barbara Revels hold an elected position when she has been fined one of the largest fines ever in Flagler County and continues to be investigated by the Ethics commission? I don’t understand why Revels files 6x financial disclosure amendments showing hundreds of thousands of dollars disclosures and why she was not transparent to begin with. Wasn’t there an issue about her failing to disclose she owned a $120,000 boat and how she paid for it?

    If she and other commissioners don’t discuss our safety needs with the city they all should be removed from office for refusing to do their jobs. Denise Calderwood and Jason France are excellent choices for 2 of the 3 county commission seats up in 2016. This is all a serious issue and I’m appalled that the county commissioners and Craig Coffey are avoiding the issue and not making our safety their number one priority.

  11. Will says:

    Whoever thinks the Mayor’s letter to the County is a reason to get rid of the Mayor is either not from Palm Coast, or just doesn’t understand that the Mayor is trying to protect our City (and the rest of the cities) from the effects of the County’s inability to plan and deal with important issues, especially when they effect our future.

  12. JR says:

    The real problem is Palm Coasts manager is a jerk. Anytime there is such consternation it is typically due to one over zealous know it all career bureaucrat.

  13. GTFO says:

    Just think of how much better Flagler County would be without Landon, Coffey and Netts. Flagler county is the laughing stock of the state.

Leave a Reply

FlaglerLive's forum, as noted in our comment policy, is for debate and conversation that adds light and perspective to articles. Please be courteous, don't attack fellow-commenters or make personal attacks against individuals in stories, and try to stick to the subject. All comments are moderated.

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive

FlaglerLive Email Alerts

Enter your email address to get alerts.


support flaglerlive palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam
news service of florida
FlaglerLive is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization | P.O. Box 254263, Palm Coast, FL 32135 | Contact the Editor by email | (386) 586-0257 | Sitemap | Log in