MILTON — In response to citizens' concerns about Main Street Milton, Milton City Council has scheduled a special meeting dedicated to the discussion of the nonprofit March 26.
Citizens and business owners have accused MSM of ethics violations, board members receiving MSM business improvement grants, misuse of funding, and lacking transparency.
To quell criticism — which MSM executive director Ed Spears has attributed to confusion, not corruption — MSM recently posted a fact sheet on the organization's website (mainstreetmilton.org) addressing specific concerns.
Spears has said that offers to meet with citizens in person to answer questions "have been constantly extended and ignored."
After months of public comments at City Council meetings about MSM and its grant process, Mayor Heather Lindsay called for the six-member MSM Board of Directors, as well as Spears, to appear before the City Council at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Lindsay said she was calling the meeting after the council, "received, on multiple occasions, comments and concerns and also defenses about Main Street and its board and staff."
The MSM board, however, voted during its regular meeting not to attend the meeting due to a possible conflict of Florida Sunshine Law, according to Spears. The Florida Sunshine Law is a series of laws that guarantee the public has access to government meetings and records. One of those laws, the Florida Open Meetings Law, states that a government body "must provide reasonable notice of all meetings."
Lindsay was out of town on business and could not be reached for comment regarding the MSM Board of Directors' decision not to attend the meeting.
Spears, however, said he will attend.
Lindsay said she believed both sides — MSM and concerned citizens — needed to meet in person to air differences and clear up any confusion.
"It's the best way to build bridges." she said. "It's the best way to create unity and to foster the right communication that is productive."
Lindsay said the MSM topic will be the meeting's sole subject of discussion. Those wishing to speak, according to Lindsay, will have a maximum of three minutes. In order to save time, she encourages those who have a similar, specific viewpoint to select a lead to speak on a group's behalf.
Lindsay also said it was a time for council members to listen to comments and not defend every council decision that is questioned.
"I don't want to turn this into a negative debate," she said.
Lindsay said the meeting is designed to help end any issues between MSM and the citizens.
The meeting will be held in council chambers and is open to the public.