Story and photos by JENNA BAILEY
On the evening of Jan. 7, 2020 the DeFuniak Springs (DFS) City Council held a special meeting in the DFS city hall council chambers to discuss the revised city charter draft. This was not a meeting to adopt the presented draft and there will be a minimum of two more meetings before the council will submit the document for public vote.
Some council members, such as council member Robert McKnight, predicted potentially four more meetings on the revised charter draft. Each agenda item for the evening received an extensive amount of time and discussion by the city council and citizen input. The agenda included items for discussion such as: City Marshal [elected or appointed] referendum language; elected official’s term limits [excluding the City Marshal] referendum language; and the Mayor’s right-to-vote referendum language.
Currently, there is no actual document for the city charter “final draft.” The document provided to the council for review is red-lined copy of the current city charter marked with notes for recommendations and/or potential changes that could be made to the charter. City Charter Review Committee Chair Jack Owen provided an overview of the review steps and process that led to the recommended revisions provided by the committee to the council. Discussion for the charter changes included debates on the level and nuance of charter language; what should be in the charter; and what should be in an ordinance.
After three hours of in-depth discussion regarding the agenda items, a motion carried by council member Robert McKnight and seconded by council member Henry Ennis for a subcommittee of the Council be comprised of McKnight, council member Todd Bierbaum, and a community member to be appointed by Mayor Bob Campbell, whose purpose is to make necessary revisions of the draft of the City Charter.