Attorney General resolves road commission debate
OSCEOLA COUNTY — After an extended period of often contentious debate, Osceola County Board of Commissioners recently received a clarification from Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office on the question of who can appoint, and who can be, a weighmaster in Osceola County.
In the not too distant past, the county weighmaster had been a certified police officer working under command of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department - with all the legal rights and duties of a any police officer.
A couple years back, the Osceola County Road Commission decided to exercise more control over the position and appointed a weighmaster on its own — a worker with the Road Commission, not a certified or trained police officer.
Questions were raised, however, both in law enforcement quarters and in the public, over whether such an appointed weighmaster could actually stop vehicles and issue violations if needed — without training or proper certification.
Because of conflicting opinions, the situation arose in which tickets were being issued for weight violations, but were not being enforced in the courts. There were conflicting opinions as to legal duties, capacities, and responsibilities.
Finally, following, an extended period of debate and little control over the roads by any weighmaster whatsoever, the board of commissioners decided to ask for an opinion from the state attorney general’s office. They asked for definitive clarification over who could actually appoint a weighmaster; who could be a weighmaster; and what duties the weighmaster could or could not fulfill.
Legal counsel with the AG’s office answered that in the state’s opinion county road commissions could name and authorize weighmasters.
The AG’s opinion also noted that since the duties of the weighmaster were specific to one kind of violation — truck weight on county roadways — the weighmaster need not be a certified police officer.
It was noted in the letter response to the board of commissioners that this was an informal opinion not a formal legal opinion.
So, to a degree, the debate continues.
During the most recent session of the Board of Commissioners Committee of the Whole, commissioners heard comments from some of those embroiled in the debate.
Cliff Youngs, Road Commission supervisor said he hoped the opinion will resolve the matter and help them, (the OCRC), to better maintain roads throughout the county.
In response, Chairman Dave Brooks noted he was glad an opinion has been received, also again pointed out that the board cannot control how the prosecutor and individual judges look at an issue.
Commissioner Tammy Stoner suggested the board of commissioners and local courts needed to apologize to members of the road commission for the embarrassment brought upon them in this matter.
The commissioners moved on with the business at hand.