By REID TUCKER
The DeFuniak Springs City Council wrapped up March by passing a raft of resolutions relating to city utilities and the Florida Department of Transportation’s ongoing project to widen U.S. 331.
All told, seven separate resolutions relating to the project were put to the vote and all were unanimously approved by the Council at its last meeting of the month on Monday, March 25.
The first six resolutions brought before the board involved an agreement between the city and the state in which certain easements along U.S. 331 would be ceded to the latter so that FDOT could handle the relocation of city utilities, if need be, as part of the four-lane expansion. This project will be carried out by FDOT at no cost to the city, but the last resolution passed at the meeting will. Resolution 2013-09 authorized the execution of an agreement to have FDOT upsize a sewer main to a 6-inch line at an estimated cost of $51,750, an amount asked for in advance of the creation of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget-making process.
Other than the passage of those seven resolutions, the major item of discussion at the meeting was a request from City Marshal Mark Weeks to purchase three new patrol cars for the DeFuniak Springs Police Department. The current fleet of police vehicles is primarily composed of 2007-year-model Fords, most of which have put in 100,000 miles or more on the job. The plan is to start phasing out the fleet with two or three new vehicles every year in order to avoid a situation where most of the fleet needs to be replaced at once, as happened in early 2007, when the Department bought 12 or so patrol cars.
The DFSPD included the cost of three new vehicles in its FY2013 budget, but Weeks said he decided to delay seeking approval for the purchase until a new city finance director was found near the beginning of the calendar year. Weeks’ proposal was to purchase three Dodge Chargers, the least expensive rear-wheel-drive patrol car platform, since Ford no longer manufactures the Crown Victoria model currently in service with the DFSPD. The total cost of the new vehicles on the state contract scheme comes in right around $96,999.
City Councilman Kermit Wright’s suggestion, which ended up getting the Council’s consensus, was to hold off on approving the purchase until the next board meeting for two reasons. First, he wanted to see what progress had been made in the city’s ongoing efforts to get a compressed natural gas fueling station (projected to come online next year at the earliest), as savings of more than two dollars per gallon are possible with natural gas versus gasoline. Second, Wright requested that the DFSPD contact Triangle Chevrolet to see if the local dealership could match or beat the state price for three new police-use Chevy Caprices.
Finally, City Manager Sara Bowers’ reported several new developments to the Council. Upgrades to the municipal airport’s advance warning operating system were successfully installed and the city received additional bids on the project to construct 10 new hangars at the airport. Also, Bowers’ report indicated that the local Kiwanis Club branch has been in contact with the city about adopting the caboose on Circle Drive, with an agreement between the city and the organization likely to be brought before the Council at its next meeting.