DeFuniak Springs City Council talks fee waivers, signs and city manager qualifications

Pat Franklin, chief of operations at the Pierce Family Children’s Advocacy Center, located on College Ave. came before the DeFuniak Springs City Council at its March 27 meeting to request a $75 fee waiver to rent the civic center on May 23. The center acts as “first responders,” and coordinates local, state and federal services available to families in the area. Franklin told the council the event was to bring 25-30 service organizations together to share information and to network. 
Councilman Mac Carpenter made a motion to approve the waiver, seconded by Henry Ennis. Councilman Ron Kelley told Franklin it was not personal, but he was not in favor of giving away city money. The motion to waive failed. Cathy Mosley stood up in the audience and volunteered to pay the fee. Her offer was accepted.
A no vote also came when Diane Pickett asked to place signs on city property. The request had been on the consent agenda, but Kelley asked it be pulled out for discussion. The signs are for a Pig Roast that Pickett heads. The entire proceeds are turned over to the city towards rehab of the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood building. Pickett explained that she wanted to place small yard-type signs at the civic center, the library and other city property. One large sign was requested as well. Pickett explained that she would pay for the signs. Wright, stating he didn’t want to set a precedent, made a motion not to allow the signs. The request failed 3-2. Carpenter and Griffith were the aye votes.
Code Inspector Dusty Beck asked the council for permission to create public service announcements notifying residents that now the department will be able to issue citations for code violations and that fines could go up to $500, although Beck sees them as not being likely to go that high.
Lacey Woodham, human resources director, was given the task of contacting other cities, with an emphasis on similar population to that of DeFuniak Springs. She is to find out the qualifications and duties of their city managers. It was pointed out that the codes regarding the position were last updated in 1984. Resident Geneva Lee approached the podium and told the council to stress education as a qualification and not nepotism. She cited the recent history of the position and the brief tenure of the last few managers.
Additionally it was noted that Jim Gierlinski, from public works, has been made interim assistant city manager by Craig Drake, now in the position of interim manager.
Several people in the chambers complained that it is very difficult to hear the council proceedings. The issue will be brought back up at the next meeting, as will the city audit.