SWFD approves $59,790,518 budget for 22/23 fiscal year [PREMIUM]

SWFD BOARD of Commissioners at their final budget hearing.


South Walton Fire District Board of Commissioners held their monthly meeting Monday, Sept. 19, followed by their final budget meeting.

Micheal Lynch, with Walton County Code Compliance (WCCC), approached the board to request a waiver of impact fees. WCCC is preparing to build a 24’x24’ pole barn next to their current one as well as a new employee parking lot. A six foot space between the two pole barns will be used as a walkway to and from the new employee parking lot. The new pole barn will be used to store their growing collection of ATV’s and UTV’s. They also plan to have a circular driveway to avoid traffic congestion. A motion was passed to waive the associated impact fees. 

Carole Martin, SWFD’s Fiscal Officer, came forward to ratify the appointment of Jason Wells as the fifth trustee of the SWFD Firefighters’ Retirement System, a position held by Lt. James Nathan Brown for a period of 20 years before he resigned on Aug 4, 2022. Jason Wells was nominated at the Quarterly Pension Board Meeting on Aug 29, 2022. A motion was passed to ratify the appointment of Wells as the fifth trustee of the SWFD Firefighters’ Retirement System. 

Daniel LaTour, Assistant Chief of Support Services, approached the board about selecting a building contractor for the build-out of the third floor of the department’s logistics building. In the previous fiscal year 2021-22 the Board of Commissioners approved $600,000 for funding toward the build-out and furnishing of the 4,150 square foot third floor of the Logistics Building. DAG Architects were selected in March of 2022 to handle the architectural design and construction management for the project. The project turned out to be a longer process than anticipated and will move into the upcoming Fiscal Year of 2022-23. 

The district advertised for pre-qualifications of bidders for the project but received no responses, so the district advertised again the following month and held a pre-construction meeting, which four contractors attended. Only two of the four contractors attending submitted bids. Highland Wake Construction, LLC submitted a bid of $723,642, but failed to include the $155,366 for audio-visual components of the project, making their true bid, $879,008. Then, Empire Builders Group Inc. submitted the lower bid of $825,231. 

LaTour and the staff are asking for $850,00 for contractors to account for any inflation that might occur as well as $100,000 for owner supplied appliances, flooring, a/v equipment, etc. for a total amount of $950,000 requested for the project, an increase of $350,000. A motion was passed to allot $950,000 for the total cost of build out, and to move forward with Empire Builders Group Inc. 

A representative of Walton County Property Appraiser’s office certified that the gross taxable value for operating purposes not exempt from taxation within SWFD, to be $28,473,687,622, leading SWFD to adopt an operating millage rate of 1.0000 mills for the fiscal year of 2022-23. This was approved unanimously by the board. 

The board determined an overall budget of $59,790,518 for the fiscal year of 2022-23, after calculating the estimated appropriations and revenue. The proposed budget was approved unanimously.