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Controversy over McIntosh town hall construction vote causes tension among leaders and residents

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 11:49 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 11:56 PM EDT
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MCINTOSH, Fla. (WCJB) - Frustrated residents made their voices heard at a special meeting in McIntosh Friday called to rescind a vote on the new town hall contract.

Council members voted on Wednesday to hire a contractor to build the new McIntosh town hall. Two days later, on Friday, there was a special meeting to reconsider the decision. The contentious council meeting ended with council members ultimately voting to rescind their original bid to Genesis Construction, which was selected to build their new city hall just two days earlier.

Dennis Devore lives in the town and said this behavior from city council member Suzanne Sindledecker is not uncommon.

“We aren’t going to be able to get anything done in town if they make a decision and then they don’t like the outcome, so then the next day, they are going to rescind their vote. Which the same council member has rescinded her vote previously at another meeting on another issue,” explained Devore.

The original vote was three to two, with Sindledecker voting to approve the bid for Genesis. Devore believes the councilwoman was swayed by one of her colleagues to change her vote.

We tried to reach both of those council members before the meeting at their homes. While we tried to contact Sindledecker at her home, she wouldn’t open her door but said she would wait until the meeting to talk. As for councilwoman Eva Jo Callahan, she did not come to the door when our reporter knocked.

Residents filled the small town hall, upset about the decision to reverse course. After the meeting, we pressed Sindledecker about her decision.

“I’m just concerned that the information wasn’t apples to apples. The budgets that were given to us were line item on one side and just big, big numbers. Line items on one side different on the other. I just want to see apples to apples,” explained the councilwoman.

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When asked if another council member convinced her to change her vote, she replied, “that’s ridiculous”. According to Sindledecker, she started to have second thoughts after speaking with the town clerk the next day.

Devore said both companies competing for the bid would be a good fit to construct the new building. He believes this is something the city needs.

“When the building is done, no one is going to care who built the building. They are going to be out of the equation,” said Devore.

After the meeting was over, the town clerk locked the door of city hall with an elected city official and a resident inside. He eventually unlocked the door to allow another resident in but quickly locked it again.

We reached out to Genesis Construction for comment at the time of publishing, and we are waiting to hear back.

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