By REID TUCKER
DeFuniak Springs Mayor Harold Carpenter on Monday announced he will not seek another term in office in the upcoming mayoral elections.
The announcement came at the tail-end of the City Council’s March 11 meeting, prior to which Councilman Mac Work tendered his resignation from the board in order to himself run for mayor. Carpenter served as mayor since November of 2004, when he, as mayor pro tem, took assumed the office after the death of then-mayor John Lawson. Carpenter thanked his colleagues on the Council and the people of the city for their support, but, he said, it was time to step down after 63 years in the workforce, five decades of which were spent in public service.
“I want to thank the citizens of DeFuniak Springs for this opportunity that they have given me to serve for the past several years,” he said. “I appreciate it very much. I’m going to miss city hall. I’ve been coming down here a long time, but I think I can train my car to go straight instead of to turn, so I’m sure going to try.”
Carpenter, who will continue to serve as mayor until April 22, got a standing ovation from all in attendance and many a handshake was offered following the adjournment of the meeting. The agenda was fairly well packed with items, ranging from the presentation of the city’s Fiscal Year 2012 audit to the adoption of the temporary land use ordinance.
The highlights of the FY2012 audit included a report that the city’s total assets decreased by $840,411, a consequence of the sluggish national economy, though this decrease represents a move in the right direction compared to FY2011, when the city’s total assets were down by more than a million dollars. Revenues from governmental activities were up $223,961 compared to the previous year, while expenses from government activities decreased by $120,154. The audit also highlighted the city’s primarily grant-supported capital projects underway at the municipal airport.
The Council also voted 4-0 to approve several consent items, including a submission of the engineering fees for resurfacing, drainage improvements, new signage and other improvements on 20th Street, the total cost of which is $105,060. The Council also voted unanimously to approve a resolution to purchase a state-owned parcel of land located at the northwest corner of Burdick Avenue and 10th Street currently used as an impound yard by the DeFuniak Springs Police Department. The parcel, the proposed site for the planned compressed natural gas fueling station, has to be purchased from the state if the city is to obtain any USDA Rural Development grant funding.
City Marshal Mark Weeks got the Council’s approval to use a $10,000 highway safety grant for the purchase of 20 Apple iPads for use by the police department’s sworn officers. The Council also approved Weeks’ request to create a new budgeted line item allowing the DFSPD to take in and expend donations to the department for small-ticket miscellaneous items related to community outreach. Finally, the Council approved the internal promotion of a sworn officer to the midnight shift supervisory position after the recent resignation of the current supervisor.
Additionally, the board heard the first reading of a proposed landscaping and tree protection ordinance, setting the public hearing date for March 25, and the board heard the second reading of the oft-discussed Ordinance 830, which amends the city’s land development code. The latter ordinance establishes procedures and permitting requirements for temporary commercial use of land not provided for in the district where the proposed use is to take place.
Lastly, City Manager Sara Bowers notified the Council that the city’s Beautification and Tree Board is in the process of gathering the funds needed to install a protective fence around the 107-year-old oak tree at the DeFuniak Springs Library. A fence is needed to prevent library visitors from further compacting the soil around the base of the tree, which can cause damage to the tree’s root system.