Local News

City may sue pension board

AVON PARK - Avon Park City Manager Julian Deleon believes the time to wait is over in his recommendation to file a lawsuit in connection with his public records request of police pension plan officials. In a Sept. 18 letter to the City Council, Deleon said it has been more than seven weeks since a public records request was initiated from police pension board administrator Carol Knapp and board chairman Greg Warner. "The administrator and chairman have not complied and released all records as we have uncovered controversial communication, which came from the city of Bartow," he said. Based on the limited review of Bartow records, staff has uncovered emails that appear to outline that Knapp and Warner communicated with the law firm of Klausner and Levinson over adverse legal action against the Avon Park police pension board and the city, Deleon said.
Deleon said staff is recommending the removal of Warner as the Council-appointed trustee to the police pension board. Also, staff recommends the authorization of litigation for violation of Florida Statute 119 in releasing public records by Knapp and Warner. "Under Florida's Public Records Law, we have the right to file a lawsuit to compel timely production of nonexempt public records, which would include any public records that Knapp or Bubba [Warner] may not have produced," Deleon said. Councilman Parke Sutherland said he agrees with Deleon that Knapp and Warner have had an adequate amount of time to produce the records that were requested. At the same time, Sutherland said he doesn't want it to appear as if the City Council is trying to undermine Warner's political effort since he is running for mayor. "But, Greg Warner sits as an appointee to the pension board that was appointed by our City Council," Sutherland said. The copies of emails that he has seen indicates that Warner has received copies of Knapp's emails that discuss pension plan closure and termination. A pension plan termination would require an immediate $20 million payout by the city, which would be "catastrophic," he said. "I see this as probably one of the most important issues, if not the most important issue, to come before this city since I have been sitting on this council," he said. Sutherland has been on the City Council since Jan. 1, 2011. The police pension records issue is on the agenda for Monday's city Council meeting. mvalero@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5826