DFS City Council appoints new member and interim city manager; discusses CIP list

KOBY TOWNSEND, interim city manager.

By RUBY KEARCE 

The DeFuniak Springs (DFS) City Council met for a special meeting on Thursday, March 28, and the meeting began with the swearing in of the newly appointed council member Glen Harrison. The meeting moved on with Liberty Partners approaching the council to give updates, saying that the $1.1 million federal appropriation was approved, signed, and will be coming for the Airport.

DFS Mayor Bob Campbell and staff along with Liberty Partners met with Rep. Neal Dunn’s chief of staff at the DFS Airport the previous week. During the conversation it was asked if there would be additional funding sought for the airport. Liberty Partners said that they were unsure whether they should or not and asked for a recommendation from the chief of staff who strongly encouraged Liberty Partners and DFS to move forward with two requests; $2 million for the effluent forcemain, and additional hangars being built at the airport since a number of people are currently on the waiting list, creating a need. Liberty Partners is seeking approval to move forward on both of those requests at a federal level. A motion was passed allowing Liberty Partners to seek out the two community funding project requests at a federal level for federal fiscal year 2025. 

A member of staff then approached the council regarding updates to the Capital Improvements Program (CIP), while seeking clarification from the council on some items, saying that there are a significant number of items on the list that may not be “Capital” per se, rather than just projects. Staff is coming before the council requesting a threshold dollar amount for the CIP to transfer some of the lower cost projects to a Project List that will be managed during the budget process. 

GLEN HARRISON, center, with grandchildren and wife Mary Rae, takes the oath of office for Council Seat 4 from Mayor Bob Campbell.

Council member Josh Sconiers recommended $10,000 as a threshold given anything $10,000 and above needs council approval, adding that anything under $10,000, the current city manager can handle rather than the council. Council member Anthony Vallee agreed, but is concerned with the number being too low, saying that he would not go under $50,000. Sconiers agreed with Vallee. Vallee said that the council would like the staff to steer clear of adding anything too broad to the CIP list, emphasizing that the items on the list need to be specific. 

Council member Todd Bierbaum added to make sure the price estimates included on the list are as reasonable and accurate as possible. Bierbaum requested that items get a legitimate cost estimate from an engineer or developer prior to being placed on the list, with staff stating that it could be possible. 

A member of the public came before the council to explain that there are several homes on Carver Loop that currently do not have city sewage, and he is currently developing a two-story building that does not have city sewage. He said that he has six rentals in that area that currently do not have city sewage and feels that it is a shame that these homes are within the city and do not have access to city sewage and must remain on septic tanks. 

The citizen noted that it’s going to cost over $30,000 to get his current project on city sewage. Council member Amy Heavilin asked if that number was only to join DFS’s sewage system. The citizen answered that the number includes installing the pump and lift station, and then he will need to pay again to hook up to DFS, emphasizing that this number only includes the one project, not his other six properties. Heavilin received the citizen’s contact information and will get in touch him later to further discuss the issue. 

The CIP discussion was then tabled until the next scheduled meeting. The council moved on to the appointment of an interim city manager. Council members were sent two emails with all of the applications for the interim city manager position. Heavilin said that out of the 46 applications, only six met the qualifications for the job. She said she feels strongly that no one should be hired unless they meet the listed qualifications. 

Councilman Sconiers stated the importance of seeking longevity while looking for a new city manager, selecting someone local who will be more invested in staying in the area and what happens to the area. Sconiers added that it would be in the city’s best interest to appoint an interim manager to fill the spot as the council interviews for the permanent position, preferably someone with whom the staff is comfortable working. 

Council member Bierbaum stated that the council should be open to the idea of allowing the interim city manager to fill in the permanent position if their performance over the course of the following months is satisfactory to the council. Sconiers then made a motion to appoint Koby Townsend as interim city manager, with Vallee seconding. The motion passed, with Heavilin casting a “nay” vote.  

Meeting agendas, agenda forms, and supporting documents and reports for items brought before the council can be accessed and/or linked to on the city’s website. Minutes from meetings are also available on the website, defuniaksprings.net