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City Council holds lengthy Agenda Setting meeting

BY:  TRACY K. HALL

The Mayor and City Council of Americus held a 3-hour meeting to set September’s Agenda. There were 25 items up for consideration. Guest speakers invited by Juanita Wilson were representatives from the Social Exchange. They presented their ideas and progress towards developing a robust Art District. Due to speak at the regular meeting are parties interested in reconsidering the approval of a park to be located on HW 30.

The consent agenda for September will cover such items as prior meeting minutes, approval of invoices, approval of services, land bank submissions, bid approvals, bid rejections, purchasing equipment for the fire department, extending natural resources to the new high school, approving a license agreement between the city and Phoebe Sumter Medical Center for a community garden, approving street lights for Southland Ridge Drive and Cherry Laurel Trail, and providing $25,000 in matching funds towards the airport capital improvement project.

Juanita Wilson brought forward a discussion on sanitation services within the city. She presents she has both noticed and been called about various issues regarding pick up of resident’s trash. She opined about the city’s ability to rectify the situation. Interim City Manager, Diadra Powell reported on the status of the city’s contract with Advanced Disposal. Advanced Disposal has been going above the terms in their contract. The contract indicates the sanitation company will remove items within the trash container, commonly known as a hobo. However, the company has been removing additional trash to include items that do not fit into the hobo such as large yard waste and thrown out household items. Citizens grew used to having this additional service and some express disappointment when the additional service isn’t provided. Therefore, citizens should be aware the company is only required to retrieve trash placed in the hobo. Items which cannot be placed in the hobo should be taken to the landfill. In lieu of beginning the process of looking at other companies to consider when the contract is up, Mayor Barry Blount suggested having Advanced Disposal’s management come to speak with the council during the regular meeting for September. The council agreed to such and the discussion will be placed on the agenda.

City Clerk, Paula Martin, released the certification results on changing the name of Jackson Street to Equality Street.  Jackson Street has 175 property owners. For the name change to go forward, 75% or 131 owners must indicate their wishes to change the street name by signing a petition. Although Daryl Dowdell indicated to the council that the petition held 75% of the signatures in past meetings, the petition in fact consisted of 34 signatures. Only 6 of those signatures belonged to an owner. Of those 6, three signatures could be certified, one owner could not be reached and two of the signatures were deemed fraudulent and an arrest has been made in connection with the forgery. When asked if Dowdell would like to withdraw the request, he questioned City Attorney Jimmy Skipper again on the ordinance regarding street name changes. He specifically wanted to know if he, as a council member, could bypass the residents and make a motion to start the process of the name change without the citizens being given opportunity to express their desires on the name change. Skipper informed Dowdell of the ordinance again. Although a council member can bypass the residents’ wishes expressed via a petition, as well as fees associated with the application, appropriate interested parties such as emergency services must do an assessment. After the assessment is completed and is met with satisfaction, a public hearing must be held before a vote takes place. With alternative ways to change a street name explained again, Dowdell pulled the current failed request from the agenda.

Kelvin Pless led a discussion on the status of Westside Drive. An assessment will be completed to determine the issues and costs to repair them.

Items that will be brought forward to the regular meeting include:

  1. Consideration of a Revolving Loan Fund working capital loan for Love at First Sight Ultrasound Studio and Boutique will be voted upon.
  2. Consideration for a first reading of an amendment to the Revolving Loan Fund ordinance to utilize a loan review committee instead of the Downtown Development Authority will be considered.
  3. A first reading of an ordinance to establish the 2020 millage rate of 11.12. will take place. The new millage rate is a 2 mill drop. The lower millage rate resulting in lower taxes is due to the city being financially healthy and preforming better than expected in the budget. Mayor and city council agreed the success should be shared with the citizens; thus, the benefit has been passed along to citizens. A request has been made that the rules be suspended so the effects can take place sooner.
  4. A first reading for an amendment to the alcohol license ordinance to allow for farm wine tasting room and to provide for sales of wine by sample or by the package will be heard.
  5. Consideration of an alcoholic license for Wolf Creek Plantation for the sale of wine on and off premises at 133 W. Lamar St will take place.

The September meeting of the Mayor and City Council of Americus will take place virtually on Thursday, September 24, at 6pm. The public is encouraged to participate.