Mayor and city council review mid-year fiscal analysis

Published 10:00 am Friday, September 17, 2021

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Americus Mayor and City Council met on Thursday, 9.16.21 to set the agenda for the working meeting which will be held on Thursday 9.23.21. Most of the items went to the consent agenda. Those items included public works needs regarding city infrastructure, funding for the Rylander to replace roof and address moldings in the theater, transit issues, health insurance brokers and authorized check signers.

Fiscal year 2021 was reviewed to determine the status of the fiscal health of the city. The report indicates the city is on track and much credit was given to department heads for their meticulous use of city funds. Based on the analysis, the city will be able to keep the millage rate the same for the 2022 fiscal year. In addition to keeping the millage rate consistent, the city employees will receive a 5% raise under the title of hazardous work pay, due to the exposure to COVID-19. Diadra Powell, City Manager indicates all city employees have contact with citizens on a regular basis, thus the pay increase is appropriate. To further the COVID-19 discussion, an idea, similar to the one Governor Brain Kemp presented to state employees, was to offer a day off to employees to either enjoy if vaccinated or to use to get vaccinated if the employee has yet to find time to do so.

Additional information had Mayor Blount reporting the Sumter County Payroll Development Authority (PDA) has offered to serve as the “bank” for city for the building which now houses the customer service/finance department of the city. The city and the PDA work jointly on the office space. However, the city relies on a bank to make the payment. As is standard with loans, there is an interest payment associated with the monies borrowed. The PDA has agreed to provide the funding at a 0% interest rate. Another board working on behalf of citizens, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners, have entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the city to provide utilities to Americus Fresh. Americus Fresh is anxious to open their industry in Sumter County and will serve to bring jobs to the area. The PDA began the relationship and provided the incentive to have the industry move to town. The city will provide the utilities in an area outside of the city limits and the board of commissioners have to approve this service. To get new industry to Sumter County it takes, at minimum, these three parties. Partnerships such as these are imperative for a healthy community. City Attorney, Jimmy Skipper, will take further action on establishing the agreements. Another partnership which proves healthy to our community is one between citizens and the city. Luther Park is privately owned; however the city leases the property at a rate of $1 per year to serve our citizens as a park. The city, in turn, keeps the property in good condition for our residents. The city also uses the property to place items such as Christmas ornaments for our holiday enjoyment.

After months of addressing the noise and fireworks ordinances, the mayor and city council will take a vote on the item next week. To recap, state law prohibits local governments from setting ordinances on certain holidays. However, local governments have the option of establishing ordinances for other times. The City of Americus has chosen to set ordinances at the request of two council members who have heard from constituents on the issue of noise. The sound of fireworks creates concerns for some citizens who then call law enforcement to investigate. The sound and firework ordinance are to address these issues. Outside of the determined holidays, a permit must be obtained from fire officials to utilize fireworks. In addition to receiving approval from the officials a fee will be assessed. State law will not allow the fee to be greater than $100, thus the city will vote on establishing a $100 fee to utilize fireworks outside of the holidays mentioned.

By way of announcements, Diadra Powell announced the city-wide clean up day to be held this Saturday, 9. 18.21 beginning at 8am. Leadership and citizens are encouraged to participate. The fire department will also be holding a golf tournament this weekend. Upcoming in early October is Georgia Cities Week. The city will be hosting events to celebrate.

Mayor Blount wished those listening a good evening and adjourned the meeting. The voting meeting will be held via zoom on Thursday 9.23.2021. It is expected Brandi Lunneborg will address the body again at the beginning of the meeting.