By BEN GRAFTON
At the Freeport City Council meeting of Oct. 11, City Attorney Clayton Adkinson reported that a wrongful termination law suit has been filed by John Carter against Freeport in federal court.
City Planner Latilda Henninger reported that she is looking into the possibility of a grant application for a pilot program in Freeport under the Water Front Florida program administered by the Department of Community Affairs. These grants are available for projects that address issues of Florida’s “working waterfronts.”
Mayor Mickey Marse reported to the Council that the Department of Transportation wants Freeport to pledge its water revenue to secure a promissory note providing funds to the city for relocating its water and sewer lines in preparation for the widening of U.S. 331. The cost of the relocations is estimated to be $2,380,000, a very large sum for the city. Dedicating water revenue to cover the note could put the city in a bind in the future.
Marse reported that he met with Greg Kisela who said, that if the city agreed, he was prepared to recommend a proposal to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) for the county to cover the outstanding amount due for one of the city’s fire trucks plus additional operating funds to total the $275,000 the city has asked for in order to continue providing fire protection for Walton County locations. This agreement would apply only to the 2011 – 2012 budget year. It is understood that this proposal will be presented to the BCC for approval at its next meeting.
Parks Director Shane Supple reported that three bids have been received to install new electric meters to partition electric service within the Freeport Sports Complex. He said that although costly, this action would save the city money in the long run. The Council gave its approval to go ahead with the project.
The Council gave its approval to the Freeport Town Planters to proceed with plans for their arts and craft show in March 2012.
Councilman Earl King reported on the search for a new water system operator. He said he has interviewed a very knowledgeable candidate who he believes can handle the job. Marse concurs with the evaluation. King said, given the size of the expanding Freeport system, he did not know where he could turn if the city does not approve hiring this individual. The problem is that the budget for this position is less than the $47,000 it will take to secure the services of this applicant. He said he found operators in other systems are getting more money than this. King recommended that the Council approve the funding needed to hire the applicant. The Council approved going ahead with making the offer to the applicant.
Revised rankings for the Energy Grant audit delivered the same results as the original rankings. The Council approved awarding the work to AMEC. City Clerk Robin Haynes will issue a new, updated contract.
Marse reported that bids for a new energy efficient motor for No. 2 water well came in so high that they will push the energy upgrade project over its budget by $20,000. By dropping the motor from the job scope the project would be within the cost projected for the grant, but it is not known if the state would approve this change. If not, the grant could be lost. The city will approach the state on this matter.
The rankings for all seven firms seeking to provide continuing engineering services to the city have been completed. The mayor and Council agreed that three firms should be selected to provide these services. A special meeting was scheduled for Oct. 18 for the purpose of negotiating terms of the contracts. The three top firms in the rankings are: Preble-Rish, Praestare and Garver.
Haynes reported that well inspections are complete and that there are no serious items in the report.