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Council's Corner

Posted on: June 14, 2021

June 2021 Council Update

A picture of all the Destin City Council members

All City Council meetings may be viewed at www.youtube.com/cityofdestin.

June 7th Council Meeting Recap

Reconfirm Appointment of Interim City Council Member for the City of Destin: 6-0, motion passed to reconfirm appointment of Chatham Morgan as Interim City Council member for the City of Destin.

Inauguration of Interim City Council Member for the City of Destin - Interim City Councilmember Chatham Morgan sworn in by City Attorney, Kyle Bauman.

Proclamation - Mayor Jarvis read the Proclamation declaring June 7th – 11th as Code Enforcement Officers Appreciation Week and then presented it to the Code Compliance Manager Joey Forgione.

Tourist Development Department Update by Jennifer Adams - Ms. Adams will provide quarterly reports to Council beginning July 2021.

City Manager Report:

Proposed City of Destin Planning Areas: 7-0, motion passed to approve the proposed planning areas and amend the City’s comprehensive plan accordingly.

Consultant Selection for Zerbe/Calhoun Pedestrian Improvements Phase II: 7-0, motion to approve Baskerville-Donovan for the Zerbe/Calhoun Pedestrian Improvements Phase II.

Cross Town Connector Multimodal Design: 7-0, motion to direct the City Manager to implement right-of-way option No. 2 and multimodal elements Option No. 2, 40’ right-of-way with median, into the project design.

Transfer of ERU Water and Sewer Credits to Destin High School, Inc.: 6-0, motion to authorize and direct the mayor to execute the agreement, as amended, transferring City of Destin Equivalent Residential Unit Credits to Destin High School, Inc. Councilmember Ramswell abstained from voting.

Council Comments:

Councilmember Braden/Livery Vessel Fees: Councilmember Braden noted a motion previously approved by Council to increase livery vessel fees, with proceeds to be used to hire either a Harbor Master or a Harbor Ranger that can issue citations, and whose main area of responsibility will be the North Harbor District. He recommends hiring a Harbor Master/Ranger within the next 90 days or reducing the livery vessel fees back to the amount prior to the increase.

Councilmember Destin wants to make sure funds have been segregated to be used for that specific purpose before taking any action.

City Attorney will coordinate matters with the Finance Director to make sure said funds are set aside, and that they are segregated by a specific resolution to be used as prescribed by Council.

Councilmember Braden requests this item be placed on the next agenda, and to include the findings as well as copy of the meeting minutes when this issue was discussed and acted upon by the Council in the agenda report.

Councilmember Braden/Eglin Air Force Base Property: Councilmember Braden asked staff to contact the Eglin Base Commander and inquire about their plans for the property located on the west end of the Destin Bridge.

It was the consensus of the Council to allow the mayor to reach out to Commissioner Mel Ponder, and together discuss this matter with the Eglin Base Commander. The mayor will report findings back to Council, and Commissioner Ponder to BOCC.

Councilmember Braden/Ordinance: Councilmember Braden recommends the City formulates an ordinance prohibiting electric bicycles, scooters, skateboards, etc. from operating on sidewalks.

It was the consensus of the Council to allow the City Attorney, Land Use Attorney and City staff to review State Statutes that specifically address motorized vehicles as described by Councilmember Braden and provide recommendations to Council.

Councilmember Braden/LSV's: Councilmember Braden would like to see Low Speed Vehicles (LSV) back on the table for discussion at some point as the Sheriff’s Office has expressed great concern about LSVs on Airport Road.

Councilmember Braden asked staff to determine the average income for Destin and Okaloosa County.

Councilmember Ramswell asked staff to find out who is responsible for maintaining the section of the road at Silver Shells.

Councilmember Ramswell/Maintenance of rights-of-way along Commons Drive Report: The Deputy City Manager will continue to monitor and provide updates on the County’s progress in maintaining the area rights-of-way.

Councilmember Ramswell expressed safety concerns over a white utility box located above ground at the southeast corner of Indian Bayou Trail and Country Club Drive intersection. There are exposed cables, electric wiring and associated devices. She asked staff to find out who is responsible for maintaining it.

Councilmember Destin noted that Gulf Power has returned the City’s proposed franchise and utility undergrounding agreements to the City’s special counsel Schef Wright. He will ask Mr. Wright to provide a report at the next Council meeting, if possible.

Councilmember Destin noted that the comments from the public portion of the agenda has been pretty chaotic tonight. He recommends better management of the situation at future meetings. He also recommends Council directions to be given only to City Manager, City Attorney or Land Use Attorney, and not directly to other City employees.

Councilmember Hebert/Master Gardener's Cooperative Project: It was the consensus of the Council to allow Ms. Janet Hayes, a master gardener, to assist the City with the beautification process at Buck Destin Park, and to work with people in charge with irrigation and pesticide application.

Councilmember King asked to place on the next council meeting agenda “Catch and Release Pond at Crosstown Connector.”

Councilmember Schmidt/Charter Review: 7-0, motion passed to direct the City Attorney to bring back recommendations for amending the City Charter with regards to appointment of Interim City Councilmember and conducting a special election to fill a vacated council position.

Councilmember Schmidt/Harborwalk Boardwalk Replacement: 7-0, motion passed to direct the City Manager to direct staff to begin the permitting and quotes processes for the boardwalk replacement at the Tailfins location, and to begin replacement immediately following the completion of the 3 currently permitted sections with available funds or for the next round of funding.

Councilmember Schmidt/Air Tour Operations - Resolution in Support of County's Efforts Related to Helicopter and Air Tour Flight Paths: 7-0, motion passed to adopt Resolution 21-06 and allow Councilmember Schmidt to work with the City and County government officials to continue finding a solution to helicopter issues in the community and on their beaches.

Mayor Gary Jarvis: 7-0, motion passed to direct the City Manager to instruct staff to gather necessary information for the Council to discuss and vote on the recommendation to place porta potties at certain locations along the boardwalk during busy holiday weekends such as during Labor Day and July 4th holidays.

June 21st Council Meeting Recap

Proclamation for Parks and Recreation Month - Mayor Gary Jarvis read the proclamation designating the month of July 2021 as Parks and Recreation Month in the City of Destin, and then presented it to the Parks & Recreation Director Lisa Firth and members of the Parks & Recreation Committee.

City Manager Report:

Capital Project Status - Finance Director Krystal Strickland provided a summary of the current capital improvement projects, including year-to-date expenditures and encumbrances.

Operations Financial Report - Finance Director Krystal Strickland discussed year-to-date versus actuals for the General Fund and the two CRAs.

Historical Information on Harbor Master and Harbor Compliance Officer - Councilmember Braden expressed the need for a full time Harbor Master totally dedicated to the Destin Harbor focusing on issues related to the harbor, such as livery vessels.

Councilmember Ramswell recommends authorizing staff to budget for the position if there is not enough money coming from increased livery vessel fees.

Councilmember Destin recommends putting in a budget request for the position for FY 2022, and to have staff provide Council a job description with a clear definition of the Harbor Master responsibilities.

Council authorizes Councilmember Braden to work with the City Manager in drafting the job description for the Harbor Master.

Potential implementation of a countywide Tourism Development Taxing District: 6-0, motion passed to direct the City’s legal staff to continue to work with the County attorneys and other stakeholders to find an acceptable compromise necessary to move ahead with the County’s plan to expand the taxing district, and to authorize the city’s hiring of Attorney Jeff Burns, as special counsel who is an expert in this field, to provide an analysis of the City’s options moving forward.

Councilmember Morgan asked Councilmember Hebert, the Council’s representative to the TDD, to bring the following issues before the TDD at their meeting on Tuesday, June 22nd:
• Request iron clad legal assurances that the money will be distributed equitably in the areas in which it was generated.

Councilmember Morgan requests the City’s legal team:
• To research and seek a legal opinion about the County preventing current tax district citizens from voting in the upcoming referendum.
• To research and render an opinion on how Walton County has created their sub-districts.
• To determine that if they incorporate all of Okaloosa County now if they are going to be threatening the 5 cents sales tax or whether the north end of the County will need to start at 2 cents the same way Walton County has done; and provide advice on how to proceed.
• To provide advice on how to proceed with that.
• Provide a legal opinion on what options current taxing district municipalities have in withdrawing from the taxing district, if necessary.

Councilmember Ramswell requests the City’s legal team:
• Research into the City seceding from the County and creating a sub-district and creating a county.

COMPASS System/EnerGov Update - IT Manager Matthew Pace provided a COMPASS/EnerGov System implementation update.

Emergency asphalt repair for areas on Indian Bayou Drive and Calhoun Avenue: 6-0, motion passed to approve emergency repairs for storm piping under roadways on Indian Bayou Drive and Calhoun Avenue and accept repair quotes of $28,162.50 from H&T Contracting, the City’s Asphalt and Stormwater maintenance contractor.

Announcements: 

1) Independence Day Fireworks: July 4th, 9:00 PM, East Pass
2) City facilities will be closed in observance of Independence Day on Monday July 5th, 2021.
3) The next City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday July 6th, 2021 at 6:00 PM, City Hall Annex.
4) FY 2022 Capital Projects budget workshop will be held on Monday July 12th, 2021, at 5:30 PM.
5) There were some minor damages around the City from Tropical Storm Claudette.
6) The City will begin looking for some normalcy with regards to the dais, starting with obtaining Council’s permission to take down the plexiglass and try to get the dais back to the way it used to be for the next Council meeting. It was the consensus of the Council to remove the plexiglass.
7) The City is waiting to hear back from Mr. Greg Darden, Director of Business Development for Structured Parking Solutions, LLC, a continuing services contractor for the City, to attend a Council meeting, as requested by Council, to provide a brief presentation on establishing a shuttle system in Destin.
8) Staff has looked into the mayor’s ideas on portable toilets for future big special events on the harbor. There are other ideas staff may be able to come up with and some nicer units now available if they could obtain cooperation with some of their businesses on the harbor district.

Council Comments:

Councilmember Braden/Low Speed Vehicles (LSV): 6-0, motion passed to take the item off the table and place it on the next meeting agenda for discussion. The City Attorney and staff will also bring in some discussion items relating to Councilmember Braden’s previous request to formulate a city ordinance prohibiting electric bicycles, scooters, skateboards, etc. from operating on sidewalks.

Councilmember Braden/City Manager's Annual Evaluation Review: The City Attorney will work with the HR Manager to determine the timeline for the City Manager’s Annual Evaluation.

Councilmember Ramswell/355 Gulf Shore Drive: Councilmember Ramswell encourages the McCraw’s to keep in touch with the Land Use Attorney so they can be kept apprised of what is happening with 355 Gulf Shore Drive.

Councilmember Ramswell/Submerged Land Lease Follow-Up Direction: Councilmember Ramswell requests the City’s attorneys further examine the terms of the 2013 easement and what it actually covers and report back. 6-0, motion passed to proceed with any required documentation to establish proper swimming buoys across the embayment's.

Councilmember Ramswell/Coffee Manufacturing Plant on Mountain Drive: Councilmember Ramswell requests staff follows up with the complainant and inform them of their findings.

Councilmember Ramswell/Norriego Point Project Bidding, Final Phase Status Update: Councilmember Ramswell requests the City attorneys share the proposal from the adjacent landowner related to the roadway as soon as they receive it so that the Council can provide direction on how to proceed in that roadway.

Councilmember Ramswell/Calhoun-Zerbe Historical District, Status Update: Councilmember Ramswell asked staff to provide a copy of the historical map to Council.

Councilmember Ramswell/Signage on Dog Park “Hot Pavement – Watch for Pet Paws”: Councilmember Ramswell expressed gratitude to Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Firth for the signage. Council requests similar signage be placed on the Harborwalk and other places staff feels is appropriate to protect pets.

Councilmember Destin: 6-0, motion passed to invite the City’s Franchise Attorney Schef Wright to appear at the next meeting to provide Council an update on the progress on the franchise and undergrounding agreements with Gulf Power.

Councilmember Hebert: 6-0, motion passed to authorize the City to create two signs for the beach baskets as part of the Leave No Trace initiative, and to place those signs at Crystal Beach and June White Decker Park.

Mayor Gary Jarvis: The mayor recommends placing a banner at the Zerbe Parking Lot similar to the banner placed at the Marler Street Parking Lot.

The mayor and Commissioner Ponder are meeting with General Scott Cain, Eglin Commander, on June 23rd to discuss their plans for the property located on the west end of the Destin Bridge. The mayor will provide a report to Council at the next meeting.

City Attorney Kyle Bauman: 6-0, motion passed to appoint the Land Use Attorney Kim Kopp as the City’s representative to the County. The City Attorney announced that the County is putting together a negotiating team to discuss Timberview Helicopter’s new contract and requested the City of Destin appoint a representative.

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