For years, the largest natural gas customer in Defuniak Springs was the Purdue chicken processing plant. The city made nearly $100,000 a year off the deal, but when Perdue flew the coop last April, so did the money.
Fortunately, city leaders had prepared for this and soon increased rental fees on city space like the Community Center and performance areas.
Mike Standley, City Manager, says, “We've also increased tap fees on our water systems to offset some of the costs associated with operating that system, lots on our cemeteries, we've gone up on those.”
Officials have also cut back on funding to festivals and private organizations. Last year the city budget stood at just under $19 million. This year the budget has grown to more than $20 million.
“The feed mill still remains open and they now pay a much higher rate for natural gas, offsetting the lost revenue from the plant, but what about the almost 400 employees that lost their jobs?”
“We're fortunate there's so much growth in the south end of the county and it appears that a lot of the people that were employed there were able to gain employment in those areas that are down there.”
If the feed mill closes, Defuniak Springs will be in trouble again, but city officials hope county growth will continue to provide a significant source of revenue, otherwise its residents may feel the pinch even more.
The city will approve the new budget on October 1 after two public hearings.