By REID TUCKER
The DeFuniak Springs City Council adopted two resolutions ironing out the intricacies involved with the purchase and usage of cemetery lots and plots, an issue frequently visited and revisited for the better part of five years.
Councilman Wayne Graham was not in attendance at the meeting on Monday, April 23, but the other board members, mayor, city manager and city attorney discussed the matter at length before putting the two resolutions to the vote.
The first resolution effectively allows owners of a given cemetery lot purchased before 1980 to bury as many people as possible within the available space, provided the original warranty deed does not specify a certain number of plots and that each plot measures four feet wide by 10 feet long. A lot, by way of explanation, measures 10-by-12 feet. This resolution passed unanimously.
The second resolution, on the other hand, enables those who, prior to 1980, purchased lots with a specific number of plots to buy additional plots at the going rate of $773 per plot. The resolution also applies to those that purchased either whole lots or individual plots after 1980, when a two-plot-per-lot rule began to be included in warranty deeds. When put to the vote, the second resolution passed via a 3-1 majority, with Councilman Ron Kelley casting the dissenting vote on the grounds that the decision to enact such a resolution back in 2007 was viewed as “ill-conceived” and unpopular with the public.
After putting that issue to rest, the Council passed a variety of other items brought forward by City Manager Sara Bowers, including a revised personnel policy discussed at past meetings and a road closure request on Baldwin Avenue for the upcoming First Friday Family Fun Night in June. The Council also voted to convene in special meetings on May 7 and 21 to first select among the seven applicants for the city finance director position and then to interview those chosen applicants.
Finally, Bowers recommended that the duties of the human resource manager and the special projects coordinator positions be split between the two members of her staff, Lisa Gierlinski and Lacey Woodham, as a cost-saving measure. The move saves the city $33,000 annually and raises the salaries of Gierlinski and Woodham to $18 per hour to compensate for the additional responsibilities. The Council approved the recommendation by a 3-1 vote, though Councilman Kermit Wright opposed it because it leaves the city without an employee with experience in human resources.
In order to ensure that the two received adequate training in HR, a motion to solicit bids from training and consultation firms with experience in the field was proposed by Councilman Mac Work. This motion passed unanimously.
Public Works Director Bill Holloway made a request to accept a quote of $18,750 for the removal of all 7,300 square-feet of tile at the former Health Department building from the contractor currently performing the interior demolition of the structure. The current contract stipulated only the moldy carpets be removed, but Holloway said the tile was coming loose in the process, which posed a risk for asbestos contamination inside the building. In order to avoid running up the cost of the demolition project, the Council moved to have Building Official Ed Joyner assess the situation before deciding how to proceed, with the consensus being to hold a special meeting at that time since the board will not meet again for three weeks.
The Council also voted down a request from the attorney representing the owner of AERO FX, Inc., a former tenant at the Municipal Airport, to modify the terms of the settlement agreement in which the city bought out AERO FX’s lease for $685,000 after litigation was resolved in 2010. The amended agreement would have designated Jonathan Dunn, the owner, as the sole shareholder in the company and also would have allocated all but $100,000 of the above amount, which has already been paid, to him directly as compensation for the diminished stock value.
AERO FX’s attorney said the amended agreement simply changed the tax implications of the settlement on Dunn’s part and that it did not involve additional responsibility on the city’s part. AERO FX was also prepared to offer $5,000 to Christmas Reflections as a show of goodwill, but the Council nevertheless voted 3-1 against the measure. Councilman Wright cast the dissenting vote.