By REID TUCKER
Access to Paxton city government will soon be just a few keystrokes or clicks of a mouse away because the city is officially going online.
After swiftly voting unanimous approval at its regularly scheduled Sept. 20 meeting, the Paxton Town Council authorized the creation of a general information website, the first in the town’s history and one that will provide services heretofore unavailable for citizens and city employees alike.
Mayor Hayward Thomas pitched the benefits of Paxton’s having a web presence to the Council.
“Anybody who wants to see what’s going on in Paxton can find out anything and everything,” he said. “They’ll have access to all the Council members and employees. Whatever we’re doing will be on there.”
The start-up fee charged by David Parmer, the webmaster, for the new web page, which can be found after launch at http://paxtonfl.gov, is $200 for initial setup and employee training, while domain name renewal charges come to $100 per year. Included in that price are e-mail addresses for all city employees and Council members as well as links to the city’s water and sewer departments and the city clerk’s office, where meeting minutes will be published electronically. The .gov domain name will also allow Paxton to link to the official websites of the state of Florida, Walton County, and the cities of DeFuniak Springs and Freeport.
The site is set to launch by the end of this month, just in time for the end of the fiscal year. Paxton will also debut an official Facebook page around the same time.
The other big news actually took first billing on the Council’s agenda, and that was an update from City Attorney Lori Bytell on the status of the city’s ongoing travails involving a water system customer that owes a $1,800 delinquent bill. Bytell notified the Council at last month’s meeting that the customer in question had not only failed to hold up his end of an agreement made with the city to pay off the back charges in installments, but had also made an illegal connection to neighboring family member’s water service.
The Council last month authorized Bytell to send a certified letter notifying the individuals in question that an illegal connection to the city’s water system is a violation of Florida statutes. Then, on the week of the meeting, Bytell sent a follow-up letter informing the customer that city water employees would inspect the water lines later that week. She said a Walton County deputy would accompany city employees to the customer’s property and, if the illegal connection was still in place, it was the wish of the Council that the customer be arrested on criminal charges.
In spite of the money Paxton stands to lose, Bytell said her concern was not merely a matter of economics.
“Any time a person taps onto our water system…they compromise the integrity of our water line and our system because they aren’t actually trained to perform those functions,” Bytell said. “We don’t want to establish a trend in a negative way.”
According to state statute, any tampering with a municipality’s water system constitutes a criminal act. Bytell reassured the Council members that city employees were well within their rights to go onto the customer’s property to check the water lines in light of the severity of these actions. Councilman Tommy Mathis indicated that the city had made its intentions clear from the start in dealing with this issue and that the time had long since passed for conciliations.
“I think we’ve bent over backwards here,” Mathis said. “It’s time to draw this thing to a close.”
Paxton Dixie Youth League President Matt Mitchell was also in attendance at the meeting to finalize the plans for cooperation between the league and the city in acquiring and planting 12 shade trees at Dixie Youth League baseball facility. Councilman Charles Cook, who heads up the city’s parks and recreation department, recommended at last month’s meeting that the Council purchase sawtooth oak trees from a tree farm in Geneva County, Ala., for use in the project (at the cost of roughly $100 per tree), which the Council members unanimously approved. Mitchell said the Paxton Dixie Youth League, which is in the process of putting together its fundraiser for the upcoming baseball season, will help cover some of the cost of purchasing the trees, though the exact amount will be decided between local Dixie Youth officers and the Council at a future date….
Read the full story in the September 29, 2011 edition of the Herald Breeze.