FWB looking to Hire Professional for Vagrancy Issue

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Whether it's panhandling on Beal Parkway or violating some city ordinance, vagrants are causing problems in Fort Walton Beach.

During a recent workshop on the issue, City Manager Michael Beedie suggested council members hire a professional consultant to get a different opinion on the city's situation.

This isn't the first time Beedie has brought this issue to the table

"The issue we have is for years, we have known what the problem is, but there hasn't been a solution brought forth,” said Fort Walton Beach City Manager, Michael Beedie.

Meanwhile, Fort Walton Beach police say the vagrancy problem is time consuming and costly.

Police officials estimates they're spending almost $240,000 a year on vagrancy enforcement.

"We constantly get calls from people saying I won't go to this particular location because of the population that is hanging out in that area. I don't like being approached and asked for money,” said Captain William Royal. “And that sets people off at times."

Captain Royal's goal is to make residents and visitors feel safe when they come to the downtown area.

Beedie says a consultant can help the city reach that goal and save money in the process.

"We are looking at, a number I threw out a few months ago was $15,000 to $30,000, but we have since spoken with some consultants and we could potentially be looking at $5,000 to $10,000,” said Beedie.

Beedie hopes to begin the consultant search in May, and make a recommendation to the City Council in August.