Mayor and city council set voting items and address garbage issues

Published 12:50 pm Friday, June 18, 2021

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In addition to public hearings, the city manager’s report and an executive session to discuss appointments the council set the voting meeting agenda on 27 items. Public hearings were held on zoning issues regarding solar facilities within the city limits, changing zone status on 2 properties to house a facility to care for elderly as well as a car wash and establishing an arts and cultural district.

A comprehensive presentation for the bike lane project was presented. The project has been in the works for over a year and the council was given photographed visuals of the purposed paths throughout the city. The city will go forward with the next steps to see the project come to fruition.

There are only two voting items for the regular meeting taking place next week. Although considered for the consent agenda, Daryl Dowdell objected. The entire consent of council is required for an item to be placed on the consent agenda. Typically, the consent agenda consist of items which do not require much discussion and are therefore approved or declined under one motion rather than voting each item separately. The majority of the time the consent agenda is approved. The two items not qualifying for the consent agenda include purchasing a new street trolley and approving the first down payment for the public safety radio system. These items will be voted upon separately.

Making up the consent agenda for Thursday’s meeting include landscape lighting for downtown, fence repairs, invoices for water tower maintenance, water and environmental services and grading work on Highway 19. Further items include approval of deck construction which will require limited use of the sidewalk, speed bumps on Finn Street, King’s Way, Rogers Street, resurfacing parking lot at 217 West Forsyth Street and purchasing 2 vehicles for the fire department. Consideration will be paid to advertising for a proposal for city employee insurance and a new position to address city facilities and park maintenance. In addition to the previous mentioned hearings, ordinances related to cemeteries and parks and recreation will be heard.

Diadra Powell, City Manager gave a brief update. She addressed funding the city will receive secondary to the American Rescue Act. The Act includes specific expectations and the exact amount the city will receive was not reported. She addressed an issue related to Oak Grove Cemetery and reports the outcome of the meeting was good. Additionally, Powell reported preparation work will be done to make the storm drains at optimal working condition for upcoming expected storms. Upon closing her report, Nelson Brown questioned her on the status of the garbage removal provider, which is most known as Advanced Disposal. His question opened the floor up to further discussion on the garbage issues facing the city and citizens.

Brown reports “constantly getting—and I see it around town—constantly getting complaints or concerns about the trash not being picked up.” Brown reports delays in pick up as long as 2 to 3 weeks. Powell reports the city is inundated with calls concerning the trash and “we are looking at ways we can hopefully remedy this.” Powell reports most of the citizen calls are regarding trash and “they are not happy at all with the services they (Advanced Disposal) are providing.” The city manager has a team addressing the issue to include public works, building official, code enforcement and the city attorney. “It’s making us all work harder.” She speculated on the employment issues within the industry. However, she is most concerned about the citizens. Brown questioned Powell on options. The established timeframe to get out of the contract was 6-9 months ago. A letter is required to declare the intent to not extend the contract and that deadline has passed. However, with the services not being provided, the city attorney has been engaged. Mayor Barry Blount bottom lined the situation and remarked, “There may be some things we have to take legal action on with them (Advanced Disposal). If things don’t get any better there may be some legal avenues we have to take in order to get out of that contract.” Blount remarks it may be costly, however the service must be completed and if “other avenues” need to be explored then Jimmy Skipper, City Attorney will get involved. “I think that’s where we are at this point.” Powell reports the photographed evidence of lack of service is excellent to establish a case to further the legal goal. Powell feels the city has given Advanced Disposal opportunity “to get it right, and they still aren’t getting it right.” Wilson asked on the length of contract, which was confirmed to be for five years. The issues are not limited to one area of the city, the complaints are coming from all over the districts. In some cases, 2 houses will be served, and then the next 2 houses will not be picked up. In addition to household garbage, yard waste is also becoming a problem. Lou Chase reports also receiving multiple calls and her response is “to be sympathetic when somebody calls me because they are paying for a service, and they are just not getting it.” Blount moved on by declaring, “More to come on this subject, obviously.”

Blount then asked for comments and Brown expressed appreciation for city workers. Then Blount entertained a motion to enter executive session for appointment discussion. All voted in favor and upon returning to open session, no further action was taken.

The regular meeting of the Mayor and City Council of Americus will be next Thursday, June 24 at 6pm held via zoom. Numbers for access are: meeting ID:890 901 7047, passcode: 399335.