DeFuniak Springs City Council submits letter protesting power rate increases [PREMIUM]

AIRPORT TERMINAL PROJECT issues: Virgil “Lee” Lewis, John Collins of AVCON, and Shawn Dominguez of Dominguez Design-Build Inc. addressed the council.

Story by ADRIANNE WALLINE CAMPBELL 

The DeFuniak Springs City Council held its regular meeting on June 13, 2022, at the Walton County Courthouse. 

City Manager Robert Thompson, and Council member Anthony Vallee wrote a letter to the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) concerning Florida Power and Light (FBL) “dramatic rate increases.” The council approved signing the letter. 

The two-page letter references the FPL’s Dec. 12, 2021 decision to approve a rate increase, and requests that: “PSC staff be directed to re-investigate FPL’s rate increase filings for accuracy, review the current rates effective January 1, 2022 to ensure they are fair and reasonable, and, if necessary, direct FPL…to address inadequacies in fuel diversity and fuel supply reliability which have resulted in unconscionable charges to FPL customers….” 

The letter opines that FPL’s “poor strategic decisions” to use a “non-diverse” fuel source (liquid natural gas) as fuel indicates a lack of “fuel diversity and supply reliability.”

The letter adds that “[o]ther forms of fuel for generation remain viable and cost-efficient but were shunned by FPL,” and concludes with “[o]ur residents, and every FPL customer, deserve another look by the PSC at this crippling situation created by FPL.” 

The letter is available in full at this site: https://www.defuniaksprings.net/DocumentCenter/View/17803/4C1–Agenda-Item-Public-Service-Commission-Letter-6-13

The budgeted renovations to the buildings housing the new city hall and the police department are $345,000 for all. The red brick building needs a new roof and the city is requesting bids for it. 

Agreement will continue with the Florida Department of Transportation for Roadside Maintenance. The 3-year agreement renewed with FDOT for roadside maintenance. The city will be paid $9,729.12 per quarter for a total of $38,916.48 per year from FDOT.

The finance director having resigned, the council agreed to search for another one. Applicants would need to have government experience and salary would top at $104,475 per year. Discussion was held as to whether that was sufficient in today’s climate. 

The Walton County Board of Commissioners plans to build a new building department located on the west side of 7th Street between Sloss Ave. and Chaffin Ave. The proposed facility will be a two-story building with a parking lot on the south end of the property with access off Sloss Ave. It was approved that 150’ of the alleyway connecting it be abandoned. 

The board approved appointing Dewberry Engineering to take over the airport terminal project. There were issues with AVCON concerning costs that were not resolved and were rescinded from the project. Shawn Dominguez of Dominguez Design-Build Inc made an impassioned plea to get the terminal project moving as material costs are going up quickly. AVCON is the designer on record, however. 

Resolutions:

• FDOT Funds (FM4296816) in the amount of $2,562,500 currently allocated for design, construction, and paving of dirt runway 18/36 to be reallocated to airport runway 27/9 expansion project at council’s direction from 25 April 2022 regular council meeting.

• FDOT Funds (FM4141203) in the amount of $560,000 currently allocated to Airport Industrial Park Development to be reallocated to Airport Terminal Project as part of the Airport Terminal Project Funding Plan.

The board approved the purchase with Beard Equipment Company in Freeport for equipment for the transportation department totaling $86,231.56.

Dr. Melinda Henderson reported that they had 120 registered for their 2nd Annual Sprint Triathlon sporting event on 5/21/2022.

David Berg of Doyle Land Services and James Bell of FP&L requested easement packages that the council rejected. The council recommended that FP&L be invited to the next council meeting to answer questions about the recent price increases among other things. 

The BCC is interested in purchasing property for a new library on Baldwin Avenue next to the Council on Aging. The price would be $62,500 which is $15,000 above half of the appraised price of $110,000. They would also continue to use the existing library on Circle Drive. This would enable the Circle Drive library to be restored to its original historic state while keeping it operable.