Commissioners Vote to Formally Reprimand County Administrator

Posted on May 12, 2021 by Romi White

A heated exchange took place between Commission Chairman Dave Piech and Businessman Chris Smith, who called for the board to fire Schebler. But commissioners instead voted to issue a reprimand and explore a third-party investigation into the matter. Photo by Romi White

Santa Rosa County Commissioners last night voted to formally reprimand County Administrator Dan Schebler after mistruths surfaced over the county’s failure to apply for state road funding which could have yielded millions for road paving and resurfacing. Additionally, the board plans discuss a third-party investigation into the issues.

After the May 11 discussion revealed Commissioners Bob Cole, Dave Piech and Colten Wright opposed Schebler’s termination, Wright made the motion to issue the reprimand and received unanimous support from his fellow commissioners. 

A draft of the letter states that Schebler, during the board’s April 13 meeting, indicated the county applied for the funding. He went on to say the reason the county didn’t receive funding was because the state “ran out of money” before getting to Santa Rosa County’s projects.

However, records from the Florida Department of Transportation showed those assertions were untrue and that the county had failed to apply after multiple reminders from the state.

Commissioner Sam Parker initiated an internal investigation into the matter, which showed Schebler  had been  informed in March that the county failed to apply for the funding.  

“This year I couldn’t get my ducks in a row in time to apply but I plan to aggressively go after it next year, for future years,” Public Works Director Amy Tuttle stated in an March 17 email to Schebler and Assistant County Administrator Mark Murray.

April 22 Schebler said he had misspoken during the April 13 meeting and provided an apology. 

The draft of the reprimand letter states: 

“As the County Administrator you have been entrusted with the effective and efficient execution of services provided by Santa Rosa County and public trust is key. In the future, it is expected that if asked a question and you are unsure or may not have all the information, you state that, conduct research, and then provide a response. In addition, it is the expectation of the Board of County Commissioners that you ensure tracking mechanisms are in place to ensure that this and/or other grant program application deadlines are not missed in the future.

This letter will serve as a reprimand and any future occurrences of this nature will likely result in further disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

Commissioners are to provide their suggested changes by 4 p.m., Thursday, May 13. Those comments will be used to finalize the document for signature on Friday, May 14, 2021. 

Following concerns expressed about their close connection to Schebler, the board is expected to further discuss the third-party investigation into issues involving the current county administration during its 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 25 meeting.