City leaders, fire district agree to continue lifeguard funding

Matt Algarin

Despite a little firm questioning, city leaders agreed to continue funding a portion of the Destin Fire Control District's beach safety program.

"We are trying to make sure we are good stewards of the people's money," Councilman Jim Bagby, before becoming the lone no vote. "Those same people that the fire district represents."

Fire Chief Kevin Sasser was at Monday night's meeting where the city council approved, 6-1, an interlocal agreement with the fire district. The agreement calls for the city to provide the district $100,000 annually, which is used to support lifeguards on Destin's beaches during the "100 Days of Summer."

Sifting through the budget provided, Bagby didn't find some of the information he was looking for, such as specific personnel costs and depreciation values on equipment, among others.

"I asked for two specific things and I didn't get either of them," he said. "There is so little detail here, it's hard to see apples to apples."

"Now I understand why the fire district has some financial challenges," Bagby added.

The city has been providing money to the beach safety program since 2005, when they contributed $50,000. The funding grew to $80,000 in 2006 and $100,000 in 2007. Okaloosa County contributes more than $500,000 to the fire district.

While he was critical of the information provided and voted against the interlocal agreement, Bagby said he is pleased with the service the fire district provides.

"I think y'all do a great job..." he said. "I would just ask that when you come next year you have a detailed breakdown."