By DOTTY NIST
DeFUNIAK SPRINGS, FLA. – With new commissioners for District 3 and District 5 newly sworn in, the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) has approved board and committee assignments for each commissioner, along with choosing a BCC chair and vice-chair.
The tasks were taken up at the Nov. 22 BCC regular meeting at the Walton County Courthouse, along with other agenda items. This was the first meeting for District 3 Commissioner Melanie Nipper and District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson.
Current BCC Chair/District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander called the meeting to order with a welcome to attendees. She thanked those who had attended the swearing-in ceremony for the new and re-elected commissioners and other officials that had preceded the meeting.
On a motion by newly re-elected District 1 Commissioner Bill Chapman, District 2 Commissioner Cecilia Jones was voted in as chair. On a motion by Anderson, Chapman was elected vice-chair.
The donation to each of the counties libraries of books based on the 2016 Grit and Grace production “Down by the Riverside” followed the chair and vice-chair selection.
Next, there was a presentation by Dede Hinote, deputy county administrator, of a list of commissioner board and committee assignments, consisting of: Chapman – Okaloosa-Walton Transportation Planning Organization, Value Adjustment Board, Northwest Florida Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Florida Association of Counties Trust, Small County Coalition, Canvassing Board (alternate), and First Circuit Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, with Stan Sunday as designee; C. Jones – Tri-County Community Council, West Florida Regional Planning Council, Northwest Florida Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Value Adjustment Board, and Florida Association of Counties Trust (alternate); Nipper – Local Emergency Food and Shelter Board, Okaloosa-Walton Transportation Planning Organization, CareerSource Okaloosa-Walton Board, and Value Adjustment Board (alternate); Comander – Okaloosa-Walton Transportation Planning Organization, Public Safety Coordinating Council, Regional Utility Authority, Small Counties Coalition, Transportation Disadvantaged Board, RESTORE Act/Gulf Consortium, Northwest Florida Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Small County Coalition (executive board), Gulf Consortium Executive Board, and Canvassing Board (second alternate); Anderson – Regional Utility Authority, Florida Association of Counties, and RESTORE Act/Gulf Consortium (alternate).
The assignments were largely based upon existing board and committee responsibilities for the district commissioners. Hinote told the commissioners that this would be a good time for them to indicate whether they would like to be taken off any board or committee, with the assignment to be picked up by another commissioner.
Board and committee assignments on the list remaining to be determined were for the Canvassing Board (non-alternate) and the Walton County Economic Development Alliance (EDA), both set up to be filled by the BCC chair, and the BCC seat on the Walton County Tourist Development Council (TDC).
The Canvassing Board and EDA seats were both set up to be held by the BCC chair, so were accordingly assigned to Commissioner Jones.
Jones, who had served a year in the BCC seat on the tourism council, said she would like to turn over that assignment to another commissioner.
“I enjoyed it…it’s been great under the leadership of (TDC Executive Director) Jay Tusa,” she said, “but I would like someone else to share and have the same learning curve that I had.”
In response, Hinote asked which commissioner would like to serve on the TDC. Anderson indicated willingness to do so, and this was agreed to.
Jones said she would also be willing to give another of her assignments, membership on the West Florida Regional Planning Council (WFRPC), to another commissioner. Nipper agreed to take over the assignment.
The list provided by Hinote was approved unanimously as presented except for Nipper rather than Jones assigned to the WFRPC, with Jones serving on the Canvassing Board and EDA, and with Anderson serving on the TDC.
Later the commissioners voted to choose a TDC chairman and vice-chairman. On motions by Jones, current TDC member Tim Norris was voted in as chairman and Anderson as vice-chairman.
Among other action at the meeting, the commissioners approved a $130,433 expenditure by the TDC for design and permitting services on a project to renovate existing wood pedestrian bridges along the multi-use path in south Walton County, with construction on the project anticipated to begin within a couple of months.
Approved as well was an ordinance amendment removing the requirement for senior citizens qualifying for an additional homestead exemption to submit an annual application for the exemption once initial application is made.
In response to a request by Comander, there was approval for a surplus vehicle to be furnished for the use of the EDA in order to save on travel expenses.
Among meeting highlights was a report by Wayne Dyess, Walton County planning and development services director, on progress by the Matrix Design Group, the company enlisted to propose revisions for update of the Walton County Comprehensive Plan (CP) and Land Development Code (LDC) with the goal of bringing the two documents into compliance with one another.
Dyess said the company had identified over 600 issues that they were working on. He added that plans are for that process to be detailed on a website available to the public and that related public input meetings were upcoming.
Information on the website and meetings will be forthcoming.
By DOTTY NIST