By REID TUCKER
The DeFuniak Springs City Council dealt with business ranging from rotation of the city’s engineering firms to working out the arrangements for this year’s Christmas party and also approved several airport-related items.
In spite of the myriad issues discussed at the Nov. 28 meeting, it ran approximately 48 minutes, 18 seconds from the pledge of allegiance to the call to adjourn. The speed with which the meeting was carried out came down to a shorter-than-usual agenda and mostly unanimous voting on the part of the councilmen, though there were a few exceptions.
Mayor Pro-Tem Henry Ennis made a motion proposing that Preble-Rish, Inc. be named as the city’s primary engineering firm for general services and that Baskerville-Donovan, Inc. be named as the secondary engineering firm. Ennis’ motion stood at odds with what Councilman Mac Work said was the intent of the motion he made several months ago to rotate engineering projects between the two firms, though Ennis said it was his understanding Walton County used a similar method to the one he proposed. The purpose of differentiating between a primary and secondary engineering firm, he explained, is to make sure that projects can still be completed even if the city’s main engineer is unable to do it because of an overbooked schedule.
Preble-Rish Vice President Cliff Knauer, who was present at the meeting, said his company, which also provides engineering services to Walton County, said another firm could be called upon to complete a job originally assigned to Preble-Rish if that firm had more experience on a given type of project. He told the Council that this scenario had played out between eight and 10 times in the past year or so.
Ennis’ motion carried 3-2 when put to the vote, with Work and Councilman Ron Kelley voting against it.
Other than that one instance, nearly everything that came before the Council at the rest of the meeting was met with unanimous approval or close to it.
Councilman Kermit Wright’s proposed plans for a Christmas party for city employees on Friday, Dec. 9, at the DeFuniak Springs Community Center passed 4-1. Wright said hiring a restaurant to cater the event would cost approximately $1,000 at a rate of $10 per person and that money saved by not having a permanent city manager position could be used to pay for the party.
However, another motion by Wright to include sexual harassment and safety training after the party died for lack of a second. The plan would have effectively shut down the city for several hours on the afternoon of Dec. 9. The other Council members thought it better to spread out such training over several days in the same way that it is currently done.
The Council also unanimously approved a resolution drafted by Planning Director Greg Scoville to be sent to the Florida Legislature expressing the city’s support for the Rural Enterprise Zone Program, the continuance of which is due to come up for reconsideration at the next legislative session.
The majority of the remaining items on the agenda all dealt with the DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport.
Kelley proposed the creation of an airport advisory committee composed of members of the community with backgrounds in aviation and airport management. His plan was for each Council member to nominate a person to the committee, which would then make recommendations to the Council and work with consultants. The Council will present a tentative list at its next meeting.
The Joint Participation Agreement between the city and the Florida Department of Transportation for development of the north terminal complex of the DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport was also approved 5-0. FDOT will contribute a maximum amount of $231,189 toward the project’s completion, while the city will be liable for $57,797.25.
Also, the Council approved an agreement with McGinnis, Inc., a marine transport company, for the rental of one of the hangars at the airport at a rate of $1,000 per month. No term for the agreement was specified but Interim City Manager Sara Bowers said the company recently purchased a new airplane and would therefore be a “heavy fuel user.” There is no adjustment needed to the facilities before McGinnis takes over rental of the hangar.