By REID TUCKER
The Paxton Town Council took care of some housekeeping at its May 21 meeting, with the varied agenda including discussion of several interlocal agreements and the county’s proposed fire services reassessment plan.
The Council voted 4-0 to re-up an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation to provide funds for roadside maintenance along U.S. 331, with the state agency chipping in $10,067.35 to help cover the year’s services. The Council members also voted 4-0 to continue to pay 100 percent of that amount to the Walton County ARC, which actually handles the task of keeping the shoulders of the highways mowed and maintained.
Next, the board voted unanimously to submit the 10-year franchise agreement with Bright House Networks for cable TV services to City Attorney Lori Bytell, who was not present at the meeting, for review before the Council votes to renew the agreement at next month’s meeting. The Council members agreed that the franchise and utilities taxes collected from subscribers in the city should remain at 3 percent as opposed to the 6.5 percent put forward by the tentative contract.
A request from the Red Cross to use the city’s Agricultural Center as an emergency shelter was also met with a unanimously positive decision from the Council when put to the vote. The building is not planned to be used as a hurricane shelter, but rather as a place to temporarily house people in northern Walton County affected by other natural disasters like floods or wildfires. The Council also gave approval to a request from the Walton County Health Department to provide its Mobile Health Unit services within the city limits, using the Sheriff’s Office substation as its Paxton home-base, as the mobile unit will split its time between Paxton and the Mossy Head community.
Finally, the Council members discussed the proposed fire services reassessment soon to come before the Walton County Board of County Commissioners. An exhaustive third-party study found that the city will have to include parcels of the incorporated area of Paxton in the assessment program and charge each parcel appropriately, as opposed to the current situation where fire services are provided at no charge. If the Town Council does not agree to be included in the fire rescue assessment program, the county can invoice the city its proportionate share of the cost for services provided – $95 per each of the city’s incorporated 297 residential units per year.
The members of the board and Mayor Hayward Thomas promised to attend the May 28 County Commissioners’ meeting to give their input on the assessment.