Our meeting began with Sandra Self addressing the council to thank us for so many years of working with the city and being a positive partner. Her dedication for so many years as a public servant is noteworthy and greatly appreciated.
Next, I had an item on the agenda to help raise public awareness about an increase in property crimes and thefts within the city. The numbers show we have a problem, and comparing our numbers to other municipalities shows how much of a problem it has become. A city with a small population (under 4,000) connected to a major interstate (3 city exits) and state highways at a state border all make for bad crime number scenarios. After the meeting I requested our crime report statistics from our city manager to get an indication of how those numbers have changed over time. We are compiling a message to keep everyone informed about methods we can all deploy in guarding against becoming a victim. Initial ideas include not letting people on social media know when you are and aren’t home, locking car and home doors, and reporting thefts in a timely manner to the police department. You will be hearing more about this soon.
I also included an item about solar power and the financial impact it could have on our city budget. Over the course of the solar panel’s lifetime the city could save hundreds of thousands of dollars (and I believe into the millions) by just converting a few of our highest energy sites to clean energy. The council is reviewing the data and we will address it at our next meeting on April 11th. If it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do, then we should do the ecologically responsible thing and move forward with a comprehensive solar plan.
The Health and Wellness Committee item was about approving the committee members. The council approved the list I had compiled, and we will begin meeting the first Thursday of each month. I’m excited for the opportunity to work with people toward community events designed to promote health and wellness. I intentionally made our title vague so as not to limit the scope of things we could work to make happen. You will be hearing about many of our events soon and I look forward to finding creative ways to bring our community together with fun events.
There was a request from a resident in Bluff View subdivision about putting in speed bumps to slow down traffic. As a resident of the neighborhood in question, I know how big of a problem speeding is through those streets. I had to move my family off one of the straight aways and into a cul-de-sac to keep my daughters safe from the cars that flew by. There was a motion to put in stop signs at a few intersections to create two 4-way stops and one 3-way stop in order to break up the distance cars had to build up speed. I asked for a motion to table the request until our next meeting in order to inform the residents about our plans and allow time for feedback. We did vote to table the motion and we will vote on it at our next meeting on April 11th.
Our police chief addressed the council about attaining tasers for the department. He has had multiple stop working and others becoming obsolete. We voted to replace the inoperable ones and phase in newer ones at intervals in order to avoid having all of them go out at around the same time.
We also had an item about contracting with GMA (Georgia Municipal Association) to help manage our hotel/motel tax processes like collecting, record keeping, and auditing. We will move forward with requesting those services. Next, we had a couple of adjustments to our city code regarding one of our parking lots and our alcohol pour fee for businesses. We’re required to do extensive background checks for people pouring in the city, and we needed to adjust our fee to cover those basic costs. Both of those items passed and will be implemented.
There was also an item included to put up signs at our park to keep dogs out of the old baseball field area at our recreation fields behind the city pool. Those signs will go up soon. We also had 2 public hearings on minor variances that the council approved. We then approved a request from Shaw to enter into a landscaping agreement that was needed on their end to move forward on some improvements around their facility.
Georgia Power requested a needed easement regarding a power pole in our downtown, and we had to table the request to get more information about exactly what they were trying to accomplish. We also received bids on upgrades to our water plant and we accepted the low bid to make those improvements. I have since received word for our City Manager that we have an opportunity to reduce to cost associated with this project and I will know soon the amount we will have to pay to make these necessary upgrades to out water plant.
I had requested an employee picnic at a previous meeting and the council decided to put out a survey to gauge interest. The vote was to put on hold the request because they viewed the resulting return of surveys as a lack of interest with 28 of 44 employees returning those surveys. While I had hoped to have an event to get more acquainted with city employees, we ultimately did not move forward.