Crestview City Council to consider uses for $960K refund

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Published: Friday, January 24, 2014 at 02:20 PM.

CRESTVIEW — Having nearly a million dollars fall into the city's coffers soon after civic leaders were forced to craft a lean 2013-14 budget gives officials some fiscal leeway.

With $959,920.59 — including $27,496.41 in interest — from Gulf Power streetlight overbilling now in hand, the City Council will discuss uses for the money at a Monday workshop.

Public Works Director Wayne Steele has proposed spending slightly less than $150,000 of the refund to eliminate each city employee's 32 furlough hours this fiscal year.

Steele's proposal would place $200,000 in the street repair budget while the balance would go to the general fund reserve account.

Some council members immediately moved to accept the initial, $932,424.18 refund during a special Dec. 16, 2013, meeting, but Council President Robyn Helt asked city attorney Jerry Miller to investigate whether Gulf Power also should pay interest for "seven years without the (taxpayers') use of close to a million dollars." The utility overcharged the city between March 2006 and last fall, when the error was discovered.

Gulf Power willingly added interest to the refund, although the Florida Public Services Commission "does not require interest to be paid on overcharges," City Clerk Betsy Roy has said. 

With the council's unanimous acceptance of the utility's check, it will consider Steele's recommendation and entertain other uses for the refund money at Monday's workshop.

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