By ASHLEY AMASON
Newly appointed City Clerk Kristi Boyd took her seat with the DeFuniak Springs City Council June 27. Boyd had no time for pause as the meeting was packed with citizens’ comments and Council discussion.
James Hayes and Bob Windsor, both residents of Lakeview Drive, spoke on behalf of the geese that have garnered a reputation as a bunch of bad eggs. The fowl are accused of garden devastation and leaving a mess in their wake. Hayes told the Council, “I feed and enjoy [the geese]…I’d like to see them stay without being harassed.” Windsor added, “I know some people are dissatisfied to see them on the lake but it’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen…I think it’s a short lived thing and they’ll go away in a month or two.”
Councilman Ron Kelley later addressed complaints about geese he received from unhappy residents. Councilman Kermit Wright, also a resident of Lakeview Drive, suggested the city take a survey to determine the majority’s wishes on whether to call in the Fish and Wildlife Commission or let the geese gather. Interim City Manager Bill Holloway agreed to oversee the survey.
Jeannine Cole addressed the Council about Joel Glenn’s, of Clary-Glenn Funeral Home on Park Ave., rezoning request to permit a crematorium on-site. Cole stated that although she supported cremation and planned on being cremated, she viewed a crematorium 439 feet from her front door in a residential district a violation of her right to the enjoyment of her property. “Isn’t that what zoning is supposed to do: protect us,” she asked. The rezoning request, she said, “is obnoxious and inappropriate, as well as initiating a trend to destroy our historic district,” and later asked, “Do you want to be remembered as the [Council] that depreciated the historic district?” Cole claimed scientific evidence was not yet available on the danger of toxins and particulates emitted from the latest cremation technology and declared the city could earn the nickname “Cremiak Springs.”
“Home is just a name” she said, “but it’s a strong one and a sacred one…I don’t want to risk my life or others’ lives because the facts were misrepresented….”
Scarlett Phaneuf, managing director of the Walton County Economic Development Alliance, informed the Council it had reduced its board of directors from 21 members to seven “in order to make [the WCEDA] more effective, productive, and accountable…” The new board is composed of the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) Chairman or designee, a second seat to be filled by the Tourist Development Council Director, the County Administrator, or a second member of the BCC, three mayors or their designees, and two private sector members.
David King and Cory Godwin received unanimous approval to use unoccupied rooms in the DeFuniak Springs Community Center for Boys & Girls Club Teen Center activities during the summer and from 2:45-6 p.m. during the school year. Godwin said the Club seeks to develop a program for youth ages 6-12 by next summer and thanked the Council for its support. Kelley thanked King and Godwin for their dedication to the Club, stating, “It was brought to my attention that…in DeFuniak Springs because we lack anything for teenagers to do, there is sort of an unofficial fight club,” in which teens “drink way too much” and “fight for recreation.” Kelley applauded the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center for offering an alternative that was “wholesome and pleasing and beneficial to the community.”
The city manager’s salary was set after one failed motion. According to the Council’s informational packet, the “Council approved salary range for the city manager position as of Oct. 1, 2010 is from $67,606.23 to $114,930.91.”
Kelley said the top end was “outlandish and unreasonable.” He motioned to set the starting salary at the low-end. Councilman Wayne Graham voiced concern that $67,606.23 was too high for a starting salary and would like to see it closer to $60,000. The motion to approve failed 3-2, Kelley and Councilman Mac Work yielding ayes. Audience members informally expressed agreement with Graham’s proposal of $60,000, to which Work expressed confusion as to whether the salary included the cost of the benefits package. The Council clarified the salary was exclusive of a benefits package, which includes retirement, four hours of paid vacation bi-weekly, four hours of paid sick leave bi-weekly, 11 paid holidays per year, and health insurance. Work motioned to set the salary at $60,000. Graham provided a second. The motion carried unanimously.
The Council tabled the decision to recodify the city’s municipal code until budget time. The agreement with the Municipal Code Corporation, if passed, would result in an evaluation and reprint of the code to reflect current state statutes and eliminate contradictions, errors, and duplicate verbiage. Planning Director Greg Scoville noted recodification to reflect amendments had not been done since the code’s inception in 1961….
Read the full story in the June 30, 2011 edition of the Herald Breeze.