City of Hampton may be dissolved

Author: Kumasi Aaron, Reporter, weekend anchor, kaaron@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 19 2014 04:45:51 PM EST
HAMPTON, Fla. -

The doors of Hampton City Hall are locked and the lights are off, even though a sign out front says it's supposed to be open.

That's because the clerk and police chief have resigned.

Lawmakers are pushing for the city to be dissolved altogether.

"Maybe it'll get better because it was pretty crooked out here for a while with the police force," resident Jonathan Dees said. "And the water bill, the electric bill, everything skyrocketed all the time."

Betty Koby, says it might not be a bad idea to dissolve the city if it'll mean more transparency when it comes to her water billing, which the city oversees.

"Every month I have a $300 water bill. It doesn't matter," Koby said. "And I'm not saying nobody did me wrong, but I paid cash. But we need to have a system where we can use our ATM or things like that so we have receipts, because I've never gotten a receipt."

Incorrectly assessing and documenting water fees and charges was just one of 31 issues found in a state audit. The audit also found the city kept careless records of its expenses for years, sometimes keeping no records at all.

Other findings include overpaying a former clerk by $9,000 and spending $27,000 without demonstrating a public purpose.

The state audit also found city leaders didn't keep records of assigned vehicles for employees, didn't keep track of nearly half of the water supply, and admitted that some of its records were "lost in a swamp."

"I was at a funeral one time and I had a couple of people from that community say, 'Sheriff, you've got to help us. We can't say anything. If we do, it's kind of like the Gustavo well get harassed,'" said Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith.

Smith said he found out about some of the issues. If Hampton is dissolved, Smith's office would oversee its law enforcement because it would become an unincorporated part of Bradford County. The county would provide water services as well.

Whatever is decided, Dees hopes it will mean a better Hampton for him and his family.

"Maybe they'll put money into it instead of taking money out of it and then not know where it goes and not be able to explain to the citizens where it goes," Dees said. "We still don't know where it is."