City council changes meeting times

Published 12:37 pm Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — The Americus City Council voted at its Jan. 11 agenda setting meeting to change its meeting times from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The decision was unanimous.
Several items are on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.
• Consider transferring 44 parcels of property owned by the City to the Land Bank Authority.
• Consider approving an alcohol license for JJ Wings for sake of beer, wine and liquor on premises. This item was actually approved at the agenda setting.
• Consider approving an alcohol license for T&R Food Store, 1505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
• Consider approving an alcohol license for Urban Lounge on North Jackson Street.
• Consider approving the continuation of the Central Business Improvement District special taxing district for the next five years. Patrick Kay, director of Main Street and Downtown Development, said this process requires the approval of at least 51 percent of the businesses in the downtown area and that 58.097 percent had approved. The revenues from this tax help to fund Main Street activities and brings in about $25,000 annually.
• Council will also consider two appointments.
In addition, Honorary Council member, Father Jim Parks of St. John’s Anglican Church, will be recognized.
Mayor Barry Blount will administer the oath of office to Teresa O’Bryant who has been appointed to the Americus-Sumter Payroll Development Authority.
There will be a presentation to the Americus Police Department for obtaining state certification.
And a representative of the Land Bank Authority will provide an update to mayor and council.
Toward the end of the lengthy agenda setting meeting, Council member Nelson Brown requested that the mayor and council get together to view a CD relative to a complaint from a citizen. The mayor said that he and the others had already viewed the CD. Nelson questioned whether City Manager, Steve Kennedy, had waited to respond to the complainant until after he had watched the CD. The mayor said that Kennedy had already responded to the complainant and so had the police chief. He added that the city’s charter prevents city council from becoming involved in any personnel matter.
“If the charter prevents us from doing anything it makes it seems like speaking before the council doesn’t do any good,” Brown argued. “If a complaint only goes to the department head to Mr. Kennedy to the council, and council can’t do anything about it … If we have an ordinance …”
Blount said that council can deal with certain things and not others. He explained the difference in an ordinance and the charter, which can only be changed by the state legislature.
Brown said the charter should be changed by the state legislature.
Council member Lou Chase said such a request has to come from the entire city council.
Kennedy explained that most individuals they’ve talked to, and have done what is expected or “proper behavior” … our response is in policy and procedure, “and that’s not what the individual wants to hear. By the time it gets to you (council). We’ve been way beyond expectations. We’ve already tried to investigate (the complaint) before it ever comes to you. They’re just not satisfied with what they’re hearing. It’s not a matter of us not doing anything but they don’t like what they hear. The impression is that staff hasn’t done their job, and they have. We have no problem with sending out updates (to council) on citizens’ inquiries.”
Brown requested that when Kennedy responds to the complainant, he copy it to council.