By REID TUCKER
Recently re-elected DeFuniak Springs City Councilman Mac Work wasted no time starting off his new term in office, bringing several items before the board in his first meeting back.
Among the nine discussion items Work got on the June 10 agenda were Public Works requests to fix a few bumps in roads around the city and information-only updates about new businesses and the potential for installing a fiber-optic network. He also brought forward a few items that got immediate action from the Council, biggest among them a call to host monthly town-hall style open-forum meetings, which Work said is another step toward increase City Hall’s public transparency. Work said his goal of greater transparency had been achieved due to the online availability of meeting minutes and recorded audio since 2011 – though more could be done in terms of giving the public additional chances to voice its opinions and share ideas with the Council.
The rest of the board members agreed with the idea, though the final 4-0 vote to go ahead with the plan amended it such that meetings would be held for two months to start with as per Councilman Ron Kelley’s suggestion to give the forums a “trial run.” Meetings will be at 5 p.m. before the first regularly scheduled Council meetings in July and August, with subsequent meetings being contingent on public participation.
Work proposed to have city staff look into the possibility of putting nearly $98,000 in accumulated fire and police impact fees toward the construction of a new headquarters for the city’s police department. City Attorney Clayton Adkinson said use of the impact fees is growth-restricted, but the DFSPD’s expansion in personnel and services since 2007 most likely justifies such use of the moneys. The Council voted 4-0 to have Adkinson and City Manager Sara Bowers consult the matter and report back to the board at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
The Council also had to take some action during the request agenda portion of the meeting, voting 4-0 against the sale of a surplus natural gas odorizer to the city of Brewton, Ala., potentially recouping 50-60 percent of the purchase price. The equipment was purchased in December 2009 at a cost of a little more than $22,000, but it has been in storage for several years with little prospect of it being put back into service, said Utilities Services Supervisor Mike Sasser. The Council’s opinion was that it is in the city’s interest to keep a spare unit, as replacements might put a strain on the budget.
Wrapping up the meeting with a little bit of housekeeping that included another agreement with the state Department of Transportation as part of the U.S. 331 four-laning project, the Council voted 4-0 to set a tentative date of July 16 for the first budget workshop.