By REID TUCKER
Paxton Town Council members Bobby Kemp and Jenice Armstrong retained their places on the board following city elections held earlier this month, though total voter turnout was on the low side.
Only 182 votes (including absentee votes) were cast in the city election on Aug. 14, with 76 going the way of Armstrong, 66 for Kemp and 40 for their opponent, former council member Bill McRae, who ran for a seat again after not being reelected last year. The Council voted unanimously at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21, to validate these results.
City Ordinance 12-01 was adopted by the Council following the ordinance’s second public reading. The ordinance, which has been in the works for the past several months, prohibits sex offenders and convicted sexual predators from entering city parks, including the Dixie Youth League baseball complex, under penalty of a second-degree misdemeanor. The language of the ordinance is based on Florida Statutes.
The Council also voted unanimously to renew its contract with Rabren, Odom, Pierce & Hayes, P.C., the city’s longtime accounting firm, for the purposes of providing the city audit services. Rabren, Odom, Pierce & Hayes won the open bidding process with a bid of $12,300 for the year’s services, which is an increase of $100 over last year.
The remainder of new business on the agenda included updates from both the Walton County Economic Development Alliance’s (WCEDA) Scarlett Phaneuf and the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Mitzie Graff. Graff said the Chamber is committed to helping Paxton, which she called “one of the best-kept secrets in Walton County,” to grow. Phaneuf gave the Council an update on the ongoing Dollar General project, saying that the packet containing the revised agreement between the city and Teramore Development, LLC, the project’s land developer, would be submitted for Dollar General’s final approval no later than Aug. 29.
The Council also used the opportunity renew the city’s annual agreement with the WCEDA for a fee of $1,000.
The meeting also featured much discussion of old business, the majority of which came from City Attorney Lori Bytell, who received approval from the Council to proceed with drawing up several new ordinances related to public works. The Council voted 5-0 to authorize the creation of an ordinance for a well-head protection plan, another to update the interlocal agreement between the city and Walton County for the purpose of securing a state grant to be used for a water system update, and another to enable county and city workers to work together outside Paxton city limits. That final ordinance requires that the city’s boundaries be defined along with the boundaries of unincorporated Walton County, as city water crews are not allowed to work more than five miles outside the city limits, Bytell said.
Mayor Hayward Thomas informed the Council of an offer from Walton County’s Department of Parks and Recreation to install a “splash pad” at the Paxton Dixie Youth League baseball complex at no cost to the city. Thomas tried for at least two years to secure one of the watery play areas for the park, but the funds were not available until now. The Council approved the county’s offer, according to which the city will pay the water bill after the splash pad, valued at $1,000, is installed by county workers.
Finally, the Council set Friday, Sept. 28, as the date for the final budget workshop before the tentative Fiscal Year 2013 budget is approved. The workshop will be held at Town Hall at 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend.