The city’s roughly 13,000 residents are "certainly living in interesting times," Mayor Scott Fischer told more than 50 people during his annual State of the City address on Monday.
While battling bronchitis, Fischer delivered a speech that included a look at various city accomplishments from 2017, as well as updates on ongoing city projects and issues.
He said city officials have kept property taxes low, negotiated a new contract with Waste Management that features lower costs for customers, and continues to seek the "best, most cost-efficient" electric utility for Destin customers.
Fischer also noted that the city recently started a short-term rental task force, began requiring the registration of all livery vessels, revised the city’s noise ordinance, passed an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana distribution facilities and made progress on the planned Crosstown Connector road project, which is expected to relieve traffic congestion on U.S. Highway 98.
Fischer emphasized that city officials remain focused on maintaining the city’s "world-class" beaches, the Destin harbor and the local fishing industry.
Destin was incorporated in 1984. Last year, the city celebrated the start of the more than $12 million Norriego Point stabilization and recreation project, which Fischer called the most monumental project in Destin’s history.
The ongoing work at the point will restore it to its pre-1995/Hurricane Opal condition. The overall project could be completed in the spring of 2019.
Fischer also said the city looks forward to the completion of several park projects: the new Capt. Leonard Destin Park on Calhoun Avenue, Capt. Royal Melvin Heritage Park on Harbor Boulevard and Joe’s Bayou Recreation Area on Beach Drive, and the restored Clement Taylor Park on Calhoun.
The mayor said while some "hot-button issues" get all the public attention, the city’s parks and facilities continue to host various events, roads are getting paved, beaches are being maintained and codes are being enforced, all at a low tax rate.
Next month, Fischer will try to win his first four-year mayoral term. He is serving the final two years of the term of former mayor and current state Rep. Mel Ponder, who left office when he decided to run for a seat in the Florida House of Representatives in 2016.
In the at-large city election on March 13, Fischer will face Gary Jarvis, president of the Destin Charter Boat Association, in the race for mayor.