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Mayor and city council vote on fireworks and millage rate

Mayor Barry Blount and the City Council of Americus met to vote on items for September on 9.24.21. All council members, with the exception of Lou Chase, were present. The meeting opened with Brandi Lunneborg, CEO of Phoebe Sumter Medical Center (PSMC), presenting current trends on COVID-19. The data is showing significantly higher rates of vaccination, as well as a lowering of inpatient beds being utilized for COVID-19 positive patients. However, all of the patients are on a respirator. PSMC is making a large push to have mobile vaccination units in the community, and as Bradi was speaking, a unit was being utilized at Taste of Sumter. Within the last days, a booster shot has been approved for those aged 65 and older, and to certain high-risk populations. The implementation plan to administer the booster is currently under way. PSMC is also seeing success with an approved respiratory treatment for those who are in the early stages of illness. However, the components of the treatment are becoming limited because the demand is stronger than the supply. PSMC, as well as other providers, are having to follow state-mandated distribution rules. However, if you have tested positive and would like to utilize the treatment, please contact PSMC or your health care provider to determine if an appointment can be procured.

A citizen also spoke to the council regarding crime and loud music within his neighborhood. A public hearing was held regarding the millage rate to be set. No one spoke on the action.

When the consent agenda came up for vote it passed unanimously.

There were four items a vote was scheduled for. The first item related to a sound and fireworks ordinance in which the mayor and city council have addressed in depth over the past few months. The ordinance would require citizens to acquire a permit to utilize fireworks on days which State law dictates a local ordinance has no authorization. Those dates include New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve, two days in July set aside to celebrate Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day. All other days are subject to the ordinance. Citizens should be aware all use of fireworks, outside of days mentioned, will need a permit in order to comply with the ordinance. Fire Department professionals will process the permits. The vote passed unanimously. Second, the city established a fee for the permit to use fireworks. The vote passed unanimously to charge $100 for the permit. Third, after the council voted unanimously to suspend the rules, council voted upon the mill rate. If will remain consistent for all areas except downtown at a rate of 11.12. The rate for downtown is slightly higher. This vote also passed unanimously. Lastly, council voted unanimously to enter into a contractual agreement with the Sumter County Payroll Development Authority (PDA). The customer service offices of the City of Americus are located on Forsyth Street. The building being utilized belongs to the PDA. The building has been leased to the city since 2011, again in 2016 and with another five years up, now 2021. However, this time, the PDA has agreed to serve as the “bank” for the city and the lease payment will not be charged the typical bank fees or the interest rate. There is a savings to the city because of the PDA’s generosity. The council voted unanimously to the agreement.

Diadra Powell presented updates. The Americus Police Department is “painting the city orange” for 10.01.21.in support of Lt. Allen. Georgia’s Cities Week is October 4-8.2021, and the city will have daily activities to celebrate. Americus will be hosting a Georgia Municipal Association meeting for the district in October. On November 15th, a budget work session will be held.

Mayor Blount presented the fact that Halloween fell on a Sunday this year. As in years past, this presents some concerns/confusion for citizens and to get ahead of the confusion Blount suggested Halloween be celebrated on Saturday. With the exception of Daryl Dowdell, the council agreed with the suggestion. Please note mayor and city council are suggesting Halloween trick or treating be held on Saturday October 30, 2021. This is not a mandate. All council members remarked on the positive outcome of the clean up day held last Saturday. Kelvin Pless remarked on the possibility of doing the event twice a year. Charles Christmas agreed with adding another event and also remarked on the success being because “everyone came together to work together, that was a major key also.”

Mayor Blount encouraged the council to go support and “enjoy themselves” at Taste of Sumter because there were great offerings, and it was a “beautiful evening.”  With that, he adjourned the meeting.