Escambia County News Pensacola Politics

Negotiations, Not Court For Now

April 9, 2012

The city of Pensacola is sticking to the negotiating table over its ongoing dispute with Gulf Breeze regarding natural gas franchise rights. Although Pensacola officials said last week they planned to take the issue before a judge, City Administrator Bill Reynolds said today that the decision had been made to concentrate on reaching an agreement.

Reynolds said that Mayor Ashton Hayward sent a letter to Gulf Breeze officials earlier today expressing the desire to continue negotiations.

“He wants to do everything he can to try to execute a contract with Gulf Breeze,” Reynolds said.

The city of Pensacola has long held exclusive franchise rights to service the entirety of Escambia County with natural gas. Gulf Breeze, however, began servicing Pensacola Beach last month and was more recently granted rights to do so by Escambia County.

The city of Pensacola’s attorney, Jim Messer, was slated to request that the Pensacola City Council allow him to hurry the process into a courtroom today during the council’s Committee of the Whole meeting. That is no longer the case.

“We’re actually gonna pull it from the agenda,” Reynolds said today.

The city administrator said that Pensacola was still attempting to reach an agreement with Gulf Breeze, but stressed that the city would not be backing off its primary position.

“It’s either an exclusive franchise or it isn’t,” he said.

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