By ASHLEY AMASON
In a brief meeting of the DeFuniak Springs City Council on March 14, Curtis Chastain of Tipton, Marler, Garner and Chastain CPA Group presented the annual audit. Chastain noted the City has $131,000 of net assets and deemed their findings an “overall good report.” Councilman Wayne Graham echoed Chastain’s comment and applauded Financial Director Sara Bowers.
An additional line technician was hired, at a cost of $21,000, to service the DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport. The additional technician provides support to open the airport seven days per week, 10 hours per day, whereas it has been open only six days per week, eight hours per day. Local pilot Terry Dawkins thanked the Council and noted an incident in which he needed to fuel his plane on a recent Sunday and no one was available at the airport. Fortunately, City Manager Kim Kirby happened to stop by the airport and was able to provide Dawkins fuel. “Had I been in transit,” he said, “I wouldn’t have been as happy and wouldn’t have left with a very good impression of our airport.”
Huffman added, “Activity is there, it’s picking up…the airport is the hub of whatever happens to us economically in the future.”
The Council renewed a fire services agreement with the Florida Department of Corrections, under which the DeFuniak Springs Fire Department agrees to respond with fire suppression and fire equipment and rescue inmates or persons who may have become entrapped in Walton Correctional Institution.
The ordinance permitting property tax exemptions for new businesses unanimously passed. Mayor Pro-Tempore James Huffman said of the 10-year referendum, “We need to do everything we can to attract businesses.”
The city approved the employee of the quarter program, which will provide four employees per year one day off with pay.
A request to place purple ribbons on poles throughout the city, as well as a Relay for Life banner on U.S. 90 for its yard sale and rodeo at the Walton County Fairgrounds the weekend of April 2 was approved.
Gerald Lang of Pensacola requested permission to host a dance at the community center and charge entrance fees, donating a portion of such proceeds to Walton High School. The Council denied the request upon the basis there was no sponsoring organization.
The Council granted fee waivers for use of the community center for a gospel sing June 11 sponsored by the tax collector’s office to raise money for the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center.
Public hearings were set for April 25 for Richard Black and William Deisler, both pertaining to variance requests to front yard setback requirements.
Closing the meeting, Councilman James Coffield announced he will not seek re-election in April. “It has been a privilege to serve the people of DeFuniak Springs,” he said.
The next City Council meeting is Mar. 28 at 6 p.m.