Citizens Vote Against Marianna Purchasing FPU Franchise - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Citizens Vote Against Marianna Purchasing FPU Franchise

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The citizens' voices were heard in Marianna, as they turned down a referendum on Tuesday's ballot, that would have allowed the city to establish it's own electric utility service.

Since 2010, Florida Public Utilities Company in Marianna and the city have been through legal proceedings, lawsuits, and a settlement agreement.

As of Tuesday, it's an agreement that will now not include the city purchasing FPU's system.

"It's over, it's done," said Marianna City Manager Jim Dean. "We're moving on to the next project and we've got plenty to do."

Regardless of Tuesday night's outcome, Dean still calls the referendum a success.

"In February of 2010, there was a very large number of citizens that demanded something be done," said Dean. "The commissioners brought this all the way to give the citizens the opportunity to do something."

In a settlement agreement, the city wanted to purchase the FPU franchise in response to the citizen outcry in 2010 and in turn help lower rates.

But Tuesday night, just like signs read in the area, the majority of citizens disagreed.

"I'd like to thank all of our supporters and especially employees and retirees they spent a lot of money and they worked real hard to make this referendum turn in our favor," said Buddy Shelley, General Manager of FPU for the Northwest Florida region.

Some terms of the settlement still stay in place, but the changes are in favor of FPU.  

"The city will terminate their current legal suit at the Florida Supreme court, which is preventing a Gulf Power amendment, which will actually lower the rates for our customers," said Shelley.  

There are other changes to the franchise agreement and it's a process that could take a few months to complete.