SHALIMAR — Okaloosa County’s ban on various outdoor burning activities was extended for another seven days by the County Commission on Tuesday.
The ban took effect May 12. While the area received sporadic rain on Monday, with some parts receiving more than an inch of precipitation, it still is very dry outside and the Florida Forest Service recommends extending the ban, county Public Safety Director Pat Maddox said.
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The ban prohibits all outdoor open-flame burning, such as the burning of trash and yard debris. Exceptions are state-authorized burns, firefighter training activities and the cooking of food within a contained gas or charcoal grill.
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In other business Tuesday, the commission approved a request to approve a budget funds transfer so the county Airports Department can complete the early redemption of more than $6.6 million in airport revenue bonds.
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The department had issued nearly $10 million in Taxable Airport Revenue Bonds, Series 2007 to pay for a portion of the then $22 million East Side Development Program and rental car facilities at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, according to county Airports Director Tracy Stage.
The bonds are callable and able to be redeemed now without early payment penalty, Stage said in a report to the commission. Using reserve cash from customer facility charges to fully redeem the bonds will result in about $2.9 million in future interest savings, he said.
"More importantly, coupled with significant cost reductions and CARE Act funding, this continued aggressive debt reduction will best position the airport system moving forward," Stage said.
He added that, following the debt payment transaction, about $3.3 million will remain in customer facility charges reserve money for rental car facility upgrades.
In a prepared statement, Commissioner and county Aviation Board member Carolyn Ketchel praised Stage and the Aviation Board for working tirelessly to reduce debt.
"We began to reduce the debt with an initial debt of $20 Million for the entire three airport system," Ketchel said.
Including the debt-decreasing action taken Tuesday, "We will make a $14 million reduction which has been accomplished in four years," she said. "The airport’s success has made this possible. Instead of increasing costs, this aviation board chose to reduce the debt with an eye to fiscal responsibility."
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