Council made the right decision but used poor timing

Tough decisions go with the territory when you’re in a leadership position. When you’re an elected official, you’re expected to use good judgement when making such decisions, even when it’s not pleasant. But there’s more to these decisions than just making the best choice, it’s also how it’s handled. Sebring City Council members made the right decision but handled it poorly recently.

At a city council meeting, the council voted to eliminate the position of the city’s planning director to save money. The move saves the city about $60,000 per year and any necessary planning will be done by the Central Florida Planning Council. The position will be eliminated Oct. 1.

Jim Polatty, who serves as the city’s planning director, was on vacation when the decision was made public and he could not be reached before the decision was made. At the last meeting, former Mayor George Hensley questioned why such a decision was made without Polatty’s knowledge when it could have been done at another time out of respect. We agree.

Polatty is a good man who formerly served the county and now the city well as planning director. He didn’t deserve to find out his job was eliminated the way it was done. It’s not as if there was wrongdoing of any kind and a decision had to be made at that very moment. It was one of those decisions that has to be made at some point, but could have been done in a much more appropriate way. Other council members pointed that out when the decision was made.

The council made the right choice to save taxpayer money, and that’s the bottom line, but it could have easily been handled better.

We don’t believe there was a personal issue between Councilman Scott Stanley and Polatty, at least that we know about. Stanley said he brought up the issue because it was a budget meeting. Still, the timing was bad.

Polatty deserves to be treated with respect and thanked for a job well done. It’s not his fault that the need for a city planner has waned and there is a big savings found by contracting out the work.