Story and photo by JENNA BAILEY
On Monday, May 14, at 6 p.m. the DeFuniak Springs (DFS) City Council met for a regular meeting at DFS City Hall. For the May 14 meeting, the Council made a clear effort to respond to requests made for better sound. Although it was not perfect for the entire duration of the meeting, sound was significantly better.
One issue regarding meeting conduct during the May 14 meeting was animosity between citizens during the meeting. Such showings of animosity witnessed at the meeting included attendees bickering with and insulting each other.
Consent Agenda — There were eight items under “Administration Dept.” on the Consent Agenda: Walton County Heritage Museum lease agreement renewal, Florida Div. of Historical Resources – Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood Restoration/Rehabilitation Phase II grant application, Human Resources, Cox Media agreement, Electric Cart Company rental agreement, Florida Div. of Emergency Management Critical Lift Station Generators, and Redeye & Widner Waterline Loop Contract Agreement. Under Finance Dept. on the Consent Agenda: Corporate Credit Card, Bill Ratifications, Water Reserve Investment Funds. Under Planning Dept. for the Consent Agenda: Special Event Permit for Fathers Appreciation Event. The only addition to the Consent Agenda was the Redeye & Widner Waterline Loop Contract Agreement request under Administration Dept. There were no item removals from the Consent Agenda.
Regular Agenda — there was one addition to the Regular Agenda. The addition was brought up by City Attorney Clayton Adkinson. This item is a request for approval of the contract with the Spacewalk organization to provide bouncy houses at Lakefest 2018. Spacewalk has provided bouncy houses for Lakefest for the past five years, as stated by Adkinson. The motion carried to approve the addition of the Spacewalk contract approval request to the agenda.
Citizen Comments — The first citizen comment was a request for the council to have a professional take a look at the audio system for the council chambers to see if there are any updates that can be made to improve the volume levels. The council’s response was that city staff was working on the issue. Following was a citizen comment by DFS resident Shayne Betts. Betts identified herself as a member of C4ward. C4ward, as explained at the May 1 community meeting held by C4ward, is a community-organized group made up of citizens of DFS with a goal of “cleaning-up” the city council. This group came to be due to citizen concerns regarding recent council-related events such as the termination of former City Manager Danny Lucas’ employment.
Betts’ comment regarded the issue of people checking the “Attachments Provided” box on agenda requests, yet when the agenda is viewed online said supporting documents are not available. Betts also expressed disapproval for the council regularly bringing last minute additional items to the agenda during meetings. “We need to make sure that the citizens have the knowledge to know what is going on as well,” Betts said.
Council member Janie Griffith stated that she had previously addressed this issue in a public meeting and that the council stated that a member of staff would be directed to do something about said issue. However, the issue has since continued to occur. In the May 14 meeting, one item under the Agenda Requests section had the box checked stating that supporting documents were attached; however these documents were not available for viewing on the online agenda. In previous recent meetings, multiple items relating to this issue have occurred.per agenda – as can be noted in the online agendas available on the city’s website (www.defuniaksprings.net).
Agenda Requests — 1) First under Agenda Requests was an information presentation by Eduardo Pineiro from Fort Rucker Field Studies Program (FSP) to present a memento to the city of DeFuniak Springs from FSP in recognition given by the city to all of the international military students that have visited the city in the duration of more than 10 years. The memento, a glass trophy, was received by DFS Mayor Bob Campbell. 2) Citizen Lynda Morse discussed Lakefest 2018 and the process of making public record requests. Morse expressed concern as to whether Lakefest applies to the Florida Sunshine Law and how Lakefest benefits the city. This brought forth discussion from both the council and the citizens in attendance. This item took up the most time and received the most controversy between citizens during the meeting.
Council member Ron Kelley recommended a council approved committee of selected volunteers to oversee Lakefest 2019 and Marvel of Flight 2019. Mayor Campbell recommended a workshop for community discussion on this issue. Regarding public record requests, Morse inquired what the process should be if an individual wished to make a request in instances where City Clerk Loretta Laird is unavailable. The motion carried to approve the decision that the key person to receive and fill public records requests is the City Clerk. If Laird is unavailable, the City Manager’s secretary will receive the requests and forward them to Laird to fill once she has returned to her office. However, the City Manager’s secretary is not authorized to fill said requests. 3) The third and final agenda request was brought forth by Laird regarding City Council committees and the appointment of the City Manager Application Committee members. Council member Wayne Graham has expressed that he would like to be the alternate council member for the Okaloosa/Walton Transportation Planning Organization in cases where the primary council member, Henry Ennis, is unavailable. The motion carried to approve Graham’s request.
At the May 1 meeting, the Council decided to appoint a committee to review the submitted applications for the City Manager position.This committee will be made up of seven members; one appointed by each member of the council and one city staff member. The City Manager Application Committee will go over the applications and later present their findings and recommendations to the DFS City Council. Appointees: Jack Owens (Kermit Wright), Reynolds Henderson (Mayor Bob Campbell), Wesley Wilkerson (Janie Griffith), Cathy Mosley (Ron Kelley), Dr. James Thompson (Henry Ennis), and Erin Glenn (Wayne Graham). The city staff member appointed by the Council at large is Interim City Manager Craig Drake. The committee chair is Jack Owens. These members of the community and Drake will also serve as the Finance Director Application Committee. As of May 14, thirteen applications for the City Manager position had been received.
Following Agenda Requests was an request by Police Chief Mark Weeks for approval to purchase a repeater antenna combiner and filter. The motion carried to approve this item.
Interim City Manager Craig Drake — Drake’s topic regarded Financial Management Services RFQs (request for quotations). Drake recommended holding off on hiring a Financial Manager for the reason that a Financial Director is expected to be hired soon, therefore a Financial Manager would not be needed for long. The motion carried to hold off on hiring a Financial Manager.
Executive Request — First under Executive Request, Mayor Campbell read a proclamation for National Public Works Week. “I, Bob Campbell, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of DeFuniak Springs, Florida do hereby proclaim May 20-26, 2018 as National Public Works Week.”
Second, council member Kermit Wright recommended a pay increase of $4.31 for Craig Drake during his time as Interim City Manager; estimated to be around three months. The motion carried to approve Drake’s temporary pay increase. There was no City Attorney report presented at the May 14 meeting.
Interim City Manager Drake’s Staff Report — Interim City Manager Drake provided updates on recent Public Works activity. Seventy-six damaged/dead trees have been removed from the Lakeyard; the Water Dept. has killed multiple unused water lines on Bay Ave. and Bay St. in order to save on future costs should any of these lines be hit; and the Natural Gas Dept. had their inspection from the Florida Public Service Commission and are awaiting results. There were no council comments during the May 14 meeting and the meeting was adjourned.