By REID TUCKER
The DeFuniak Springs City Council is no closer to wrapping up talks on the subject of the proposed compressed natural gas fueling station than it was at this month’s first meeting.
Debate swirled in the council chamber at City Hall on the night of April 28 after Baskerville-Donovan, Inc. Project Manager Richard Delp informed the board members that the city received no bidders on the project. Delp suggested that the Council rebid the project to general contractors, splitting the bid into two parts, hopefully making it a more manageable undertaking for a prospective bidder. The first and largest bid would be for supplying the necessary construction equipment and the other, smaller part being for on-site civil engineering aspects of construction.
Councilman Mac Carpenter in particular took issue with the figures in the proposals showing the estimated return on the city’s investments. The city (if joined by the county, School District and Sheriff’s Office in converting some of its fleet to run on natural gas) stands to save a projected $24,765 a year in fuel costs or $47,776 at either 4.24 percent interest on the low end or 7 percent interest on the high end, respectively, by 2022. Nevertheless, Carpenter and several members of the large audience in attendance at the meeting expressed their concern that sufficient data had not been provided to show how much money it would take for the city to get the project off the ground without the support of other governmental agencies.
Delp described the above situation as “not feasible.” The motion to again put the project out for bids was made by Councilman Mac Work, who has long spearheaded and championed the proposed fueling station. City staff will talk with other local government bodies with the hope of getting written confirmation of their intention to participate in the conversion to natural gas, and, meanwhile, Baskerville-Donovan will put together a more detailed report for the Council’s review. The motion passed 4-1, with only Councilman Henry Ennis opposing re-advertisement of the project.
The other main topic of discussion at the meeting was renewed talks regarding the creation of a North Walton County Tourism Events Advisory Committee within the South Walton Tourist Development Council. The Council talked for several minutes on the issue, with the board voting 5-0 to support Mayor Bob Campbell for membership on the sub-committee, with City Manager Sara Bowers to act as the alternate. The Council members’ rationale was that, prior to the unanimous vote to join the table, DeFuniak had no presence in discussions relating to one day leveraging tourist bed-tax revenues for development in the north end of Walton County.
By REID TUCKER