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West Melbourne City Council appoints HOA president to replace John Tice

Tice arrested on fraud charges last month

WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. – John Dittmore, a retired Ohio police officer who is president of the Hammock Lakes Homeowners Association, will replace former deputy mayor John Tice on the West Melbourne City Council, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

During a Tuesday night straw poll, council members unanimously selected Dittmore to Tice's vacant seat. Dittmore will serve the remainder of Tice's unexpired term, which continues until Nov. 20.

"I always wanted to give back to the community. When I was a policeman, I always wanted to help those who couldn’t help themselves. I kind of live by that mantra a little bit," Dittmore said during his city council interview.

Dittmore was formally appointed by city council, took his oath of office, and took his new seat on the dais to Mayor Hal Rose's right. "It's an opportunity to get back involved with the municipal services again." 

"We have a very wonderful city right now. All I want to do it help continue that progress," Dittmore said.

Tice was arrested March 29 after the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Task Force accused him of diverting a $7,000 check intended for the nonprofit Liberty Bell Memorial Museum and spending the funds on Miami Dolphins season tickets, pro football memorabilia, restaurants and debt payments.

He faces revised charges of organized fraud under $20,000, grand theft and depositing a check with intent to defraud. Monday, prosecutors dropped a fourth charge of communications fraud.

Tice resigned from city council on April 17, and Councilman Pat Bentley was appointed vice mayor in his place.

"I don't like it at all. I think it's a terrible, shameful thing and he did the right thing by resigning," Rose said.

An early resolution hearing in Tice's case is scheduled for May 29 at the Moore Justice Center in Viera.

"It's a good thing. We're moving in the right direction," the mayor said. "We can't change history, (it) had nothing to do directly with the city of West Melbourne."

Dittmore represented seven other West Melbourne homeowners associations while resisting the recent Brevard Public Schools redistricting strategy. During his Tuesday interview, he fielded an assortment of questions from city council members.

A sampling:

Should the city increase annual stormwater fees to rebuild its depleted stormwater fund and pay for future drainage projects?

“If that needs to be done, yes. Obviously, the drainage issue ... has to be addressed. Flooding is an issue.”

Considering that the city is about 80 percent built out, is West Melbourne moving in the right direction?

“I think the emphasis on growth should be single-family housing. I think we should stay away from multi-family housing: projects, apartment buildings and so forth.”

Do you support local home rule?

“I prefer local home rule over Tallahassee. I believe that we can best make our decisions here.”

Three other West Melbourne residents applied for Tice's open city council seat:

Julie Harris, a retired Bethany Christian School elementary teacher. She serves on the West Melbourne Parks and Recreation Board.

Kristina Orellana, Title 1 coordinator and intervention teacher at Palm Bay Academy Charter School.

Helen Voltz, who served as Brevard County commissioner from 1996-2000 and 2004-08. She is treasurer of the Westbrooke Homeowners Association and the Republican Women's Network of South Brevard.