City Manager Comments

Kisela is talking about the Accountability Forum that was requested by Rep. Matt Gaetz. He said he would like to speak with anyone who is planning to attend.

“This can be a little tricky, since they are planning to publish a report,” he said. “If you want to talk about that, maybe we can give you some guidelines before you go to that meeting.”

“That’s fraught with opportunities for public meetings violations,” City Attorney Jerry Miller said.

He said the city may consider sending one representative as a “fact finder.”

“I would suggest a fact finder from the city be designated, and um, and that you be very self protective… if you are going to appear and participate,” Miller said. “I certainly see that it could relate to issues that would be issues for this body to deal with at the future, and that fulfills the definition of a public meeting.”

He also said there could be other issues with conflicts among other municipalities and agencies.

“I would say proceed with caution,” Miller said.

Trammell is making a motion to send Mayor Mel Ponder and City Manager Greg Kisela to the meeting.

“I have a great concern about things that could happen…” she said.

“I am going to this meeting,” Councilman Dixon said. “I am not going to miss this meeting.”

This is not a “governmentally called meeting,” Miller is telling the council. He said it is more than likely issues will come up that they might have to consider in the future.

“I’ve given you my guidance,” he said.

“it’s an environment for exchange of information amongst council members outside of our normal meeting process,” Miller said. “It’s just a trap.”

Trammell’s motion is on the floor.

For his part, Councilman Wood is telling his colleagues he has some “pretty big heartburn” about this whole process.

“Matt Gaetz doesn’t run the city of Destin,” he said. “When you serve on an elected body, you have to plan what you do…”

“What is the purpose of this?” Wood added.

“I’m not going to go to it, and I wish the rest of you well, I just hope we don’t get in trouble with it,” he said.

“I don’t personally see any harm in going,” Ramswell said, noting that people need to know their own personal boundaries.

Councilman Marler said one of the first things Miller told him when elected is that once you are elected you are an elected official before you are a citizen.

“You will not be seen as a private citizen, you will be seen as a city councilor,” Marler said.

“The letter I received starts out as ‘dear elected official,’ ” Foreman said. “And I have a problem with that.”

Dixon said he sees no difference in this meeting than he does in any other League of Cities meeting that’s ever been held.

“If it gets me called out by another council member, than let’s go, let’s have it,” Dixon said.

Miller is suggesting that the city only send one representative, so that would alter Trammell’s plan to send Ponder and Kisela. He recommends the city send an elected official.

Trammell’s motion is off the floor.

Councilman Marler makes a motion to have Dixon represent the city on a “fact finding” mission and that he reports back to the council.

With that said, the motion to send Dixon is approved unanimously.

Oct. 9 from 1:30 to 4:30, Kisela plans to have a meeting with hospitality stakeholders about what worked and what didn’t work. He wants to find ideas that could help them as they move forward into the 2015 season.

The city may consider a different day. Will be updated later.

With no more items from the council or audience, this meeting is adjourned.

Thanks for following along.


Kelly Street Reconstruction

Kisela is telling the council that they are really anxious to get to work on this project, as this portion would be from Benning Drive to Calhoun Avenue.

This is a 100-plus day project, he said.

H&T Contractors, LLC would be in charge of the $825,646.45 project, which would call for grading, paving, addition of bike lanes, resurfacing and striping, as well as the realignment of the 5-way intersection and stormwater features.

City Engineer David Campbell will be overseeing the project, as some councilors are concerned about quality of work based on past projects.

Campbell said that Tetra Tech and Tim Pietenpol will be on site inspecting the project daily.

“We just don’t want to have to redo this any time soon,” Trammell said.

Once approved, the contractor will be immediately notified, but they would have about 30 days after notice to proceed.

Trammell is asking for weekly updates on the project as they move forward.

The motion to approve the contract is passed unanimously.


Comments from the council

Councilman Rodney Braden is asking about whether or not the county has access points that they lease to vendors on the beach.

Gallander said there are some “strategic” locations that the vendors must get through the county.

“I know there’s an understanding…. for the safety of the swimming public,” he added.

Councilwoman Ramswell is now asking about annexation and other incentives the city could utilize, as well as applications for the usage of bed tax for maintenance of public parks.

She said the county is able to use bed tax dollars, so the city should be able to so the same.

Kisela said representatives from the city met with the tourist development department from the county and discussions have taken place and wheels are moving.

Ramswell said she was contacted by residents of the Tuscany subdivision about their concern about a “wall” being placed in front of their subdivision as part of the highway widening project.

“The owners are kind of in an uproar and I understand why,” she said.

For his part, Councilman Dixon said he was approached by some residents from the Tuscany subdivision.

Councilwoman Trammell is telling her colleagues that the county may move the storage of beach garbage to Destin Water Users, as opposed to city property off of Commons Drive.


EDU Update

Nathan Sparks from the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County is up to the mic.

The EDC offers a quarterly update to the city.

Sparks is telling the council that economic development has become more about data as of late and the use of websites for sourcing information is growing tremendously.

One trend that they have noticed is that business development is more about real estate and the demographics surrounding it.

Sparks is now showing the city a snapshot of the website they use, The site shows buildings that are available within the city limits of Destin, as well as a bunch of other data that a business may be looking at when they are relocating.

“You have available in your city 111 sites that are available for lease or for sale,” Sparks said. “You all have roughly 25 percent of those buildings or sites that are on this platform.”

“I like what I see,” Councilwoman Trammell said.

Fee Schedule

Up now is a resolution that would adopt the city’s fees for the upcoming fiscal year.

Kisela said seniors would be given a discount for Henderson Beach State Park as part of the proposed fee schedule.

Councilman Rodney Braden is asking for the number of senior citizens that were given passes to the park, but city officials say that’s not a number that they track.

An estimate is between 25-30 percent.

“I’d like to see more of a discount for our senior citizens,” Braden said. “I’d like to see us do something.”

Councilwoman Ramswell is asking about code enforcement violation fines, which are more than $200 for the first violation, then $500-plus for a second violation.

City Attorney Jerry Miller is saying that those amounts are statutory requirements.

Community Development Director Ken Gallander said the city may have records, but they would need some time to “figure it out.”

Councilman Foreman said some of the issues the city is facing when it comes to Henderson Beach State Park is that they are increasing their fees, so the city has to make up the difference somewhere.

Councilman Tuffy Dixon is now talking about Henderson Beach State Park, saying that when a car goes through the park sends a bill to the city.

While he understands nobody wants to pay for something they’ve been getting for free, the $25 or $30 isn’t “too much to ask.”

“We can’t keep giving things away,” he said. “We’ve been doing that for a long time.”

“It’s an annual fee and I just don’t think it’s too much to ask,” Dixon added.

Councilman Cyron Marler said the city always budgets for Henderson Beach, but it always goes over budget.

“I don’t see any ways to get around the fees,” he said.

The motion to approve the fee schedule is on the floor and approved unanimously.

Sheriff’s Contract

City leaders are now looking at a resolution for the 2015 Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Contract, which totals $1,496,562.

City Manager Greg Kisela said there is a bit of the contract that must be worked through, but he still suggests the resolution is approved tonight. The issue is with indemnification language, Kisela said.

Ramswell is asking about a “payment plan” that would allow the city some flexibility in paying the $300,000-plus increase in the contract.

“We don’t need any language in the contract to that?” she said.

Kisela said both he and Sheriff Larry Ashley are “comfortable” with the agreement.

Councilman Jim Foreman says the topic of the sheriff’s contract is one of the most discussed items in the city, given it’s one of the largest “ticket items” in the city.

He said the city may want to look and consider other options for the contract in the future, “well before the bill comes in.”

“The whole problem we’ve had over the years is the ability for us to carry out law enforcement abilities,” he said. “Because it is placing itself on the top of our list to do, we need to start thinking about this early.”

The motion to approve is on the floor. It’s approved unanimously.


Consent Agenda

There are two items being pulled from the consent agenda. One deals with the rejection of a bid for fire/alarm services, the other stormwater maintenance.

Councilman Cyron Marler asked the first item to be pulled, as his stepson is the one who made the bid being rejected.

The motion to approve the fire/alarm motion is on the floor. Councilman Marler will not vote on this item.

The motion is approved 6-0, with Marler abstaining.

We now move to the second item, which Councilwoman Prebble Ramswell asked to be pulled.

A motion to approve in on the floor, so now we turn to comments from the council.

Ramswell is asking about the contract and concerns that have been made about a variety of projects in the city. She wants to make sure “we are pleased with this company’s service.”

This company is basically responsible for the “vacuum trucks” that come out and allow other companies to maintain them.

That’s a wrap on the discussion and the motion to approve goes through unanimously.

Henderson Beach State Park

A Destin resident is up to the mic. He is asking the council not to charge residents the proposed $30 fee for Henderson Beach State Park. As is currently stands, residents in the city limits of Destin have free access to the park.

“There are many of us who are retired and are living on a fixed income,” the man said, referencing city leaders saying the fee wouldn’t be too much additional. “First, we lost Holiday Isle, now Henderson Beach.”

The man said he remembers when Mr. Henderson sold the property to the state.

“We humans make and repeat bad decisions,” he said, referring to the loan to the YMCA and the strip club settlement.

The man asked city leaders to consider a senior citizen exemption.

That’s a wrap on that topic.


Budget and millage adoption

Next up is the adoption of the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget and millage rate.

The motion to approve the millage rate in on the floor. There is no discussion from the audience on this matter, or from the council.

And the motion is approved unanimously.

We now turn to the budget, which is approved unanimously.


First up on tonight’s agenda is a proclamation for the 21st annual Day of Caring, courtesy of the United Way of Okaloosa and Walton counties.

Mayor Pro Tem Sandy Trammell is presenting the proclamation to Yvonne Freeman, chairman for the Day of Caring.

Friday Sept. 19 is the actual Day of Caring in Destin. All city residents are encouraged to dedicate themselves to volunteering.