Paxton City Council discusses code enforcement, Paxton FFA, WCEDA investment – The Defuniak Herald & Beach Breeze
By RUBY KEARCE
The Paxton City Council met for its regular meeting on Aug. 15. City Clerk Judy Williams approached the council regarding Council member Donna Smith’s request for further discussion in the beautification of Paxton and having citizens clean up their yard via code enforcement. Williams has made contact with Walton County’s director of code enforcement and informed the council that he is willing to help in the process of creating and enforcing the code. Council member Bill McRae interjected to state the importance of the council establishing what the city considers an eyesore, since the definition of an “eyesore” can vary person to person.
McRae also asked if DeFuniak Springs had a manual that Paxton could use for inspiration, with Williams confirming that they do. Smith then stated that it is the council’s responsibility to keep up with the beautification of Paxton. A motion to table this topic until more information could be gathered was passed. A member of the public in attendance then asked how the new code would be enforced. Smith answered, through Code Enforcement agency, and McRae went on to state that Paxton has an interlocal agreement with Walton County for services such as code enforcement, police and fire, animal control, etc.
Another member of the public questioned the council about the city already following the county’s code, citing an incident when code enforcement made an appearance at his home. After further discussion into this citizen’s situation, it was found to be a land development code issue, and City Attorney Clay Adkinson interjected to inform them that the city follows the county’s land development code, and code enforcement deals in that area as well. There will be a public hearing regarding the creation of the code in order for citizens to provide input scheduled in the future.
The discussion then moved on to Latilda Hughes-Neel’s resignation as the contracted planner for the city of Paxton. Williams informed the council that she was in communication with the county regarding applications but has not heard anything back, and she suggested the council approve her to contact DeFuniak Spring’s planner to inquire if they would work with the city on a contractor basis. This would not be a full time employee. The council agreed, and no motion was needed for this issue.
Kylie Edwards, Florida Future Farmers of America (FFA) District One Secretary from Paxton, approached the council regarding the use of the ball fields. Edwards is requesting the use of the ball fields for the district wide kickball tournament and clothing drive on Nov. 19. The motion was passed to allow the FFA use of the ball fields. Then, a representative for Paxton’s FFA Booster Club approached the council to ask for access to the town hall building the third Thursday of the month for the next six months. There was a motion passed to allow for the FFA Booster Club access to town as requested.
Then Walton County’s Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA) Executive Director Uriah Matthews approached the council to request their pledge to the WCEDA. Matthews began by informing the council of is his mission to bring business and jobs to the area, going on to remind the council of Walton Schools number three status and the importance of ensuring a job for these students as they graduate.
Matthews informed the council of WCEDA’s strategic plan and its corridors, or focus areas, with the Agricultural and Ecotourism corridor being the focus point for Paxton. Matthews went on to explain that this year’s investment request looks different than years before, with more focus on population size. During Matthews’ research he found that, per the most recent census, Paxton has 556 full-time residents. Matthews explained that Walton County has agreed to pay $4.64 per person, and Freeport has challenged that by saying they will pay $4.95 per person if the county will match; if not, they will be pay the $4.64.
Matthews said that his request is for Paxton to do the same as Freeport. There was a motion made for Paxton to pledge the $4.95 per person if Walton County matches; if not, then Paxton will pledge the $4.64.
The council then set a date for a budget workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 6 p.m.
Clerk Williams then approached the council again regarding a recent attempted hacking of Paxton’s computer system. Williams feels as though the computers could be compromised, although they have been totally wiped and I.T. professionals did all they could do. However, they suggested the purchase of new computers. Williams was informed that the computers could range from $1,200 to $1,500 each, which is less than the attempted theft. Williams said she believed the budget could be amended. Adkinson stated that they would be treating it as an emergency item and for the council to authorize the mayor to approve of the purchase of the new computers in an amount not to exceed $1,500. A motion was made to reflect Adkinson’s recommendation.