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Santa Rosa Commissioners Reprimand Administrator Schebler

Santa Rosa County Administrator Dan Schebler
Pensacola News Journal
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Santa Rosa County Administrator Dan Schebler will be given a letter of reprimand for the county’s failure to apply for state money for road projects.
The board’s unanimous decision, during a seven-hour meeting Tuesday night in Milton, doesn’t put the matter to rest. District 3 Commissioner James Calkins said he would look into having an independent “third party” investigate what went wrong. At issue was the county missing a March deadline to apply to be considered for money from the state’s Small County Outreach Program (SCOP). Schebler took responsibility for the missed deadline.

A majority of commissioners said the lapse was not worth firing Schebler, who has been with the county since 2017. A crowd of about 50 people disagreed. Speaker after speaker took to the lectern to say the episode shows a lack of leadership and transparency between the county and its residents. Schebler last month said the county had applied by the deadline but the state had run out of money, which is not guaranteed. After the April meeting, Schebler told District 4 Commission Chairman Dave Piech that he misspoke; the county missed the deadline. 

When asked about the letter of reprimand, which commissioners will draft and consider at their next meeting, Schebler said he serves at the pleasure of the commissioners and would be back at work Wednesday morning. The 4:30 p.m. meeting was adjourned just after 11:30 p.m.

Speakers throughout the night said Schebler was lying about the missed deadline and should be fired because the county’s credibility with residents is at stake. Calkins drew loud applause and whistles – others waved campaign signs -- from the gallery when he said residents aren’t moving on from the issue: “It ain’t going to go away, because the people want accountability.”

calkins_0.jpeg
Credit Santa Rosa County
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Santa Rosa Commissioner James Calkins

District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker found the circumstances “disturbing.” He said Schebler is dedicated and hardworking but should have known the county missed the application deadline. When asked by a speaker whether Schebler had lied, Parker said he was giving the administrator the benefit of the doubt.

District 5 Commissioner Colten Wright, who, like Calkins, was elected in November, pointed out Schebler admitted he made a mistake. He said he has been assured the application miscue has not damaged the relationship between the county and the Florida Department of Transportation. He added that “we need every dime” for road work in the county.  Piech echoed Wright’s remarks about the state-county relationship.

In addition to the potential loss of money for road projects, Parker noted the frustration of the speakers and that many in the county simply don’t trust the board.