Tuesday’s Guyton City Council meeting marked the approval and initial discussion of quite a few changes for the city.
For one, they now have an alcohol by the drink ordinance, allowing Demetrios Sotiropoulos of the Olive Branch restaurant to now serve beer and wine at his establishment on 65 Central Ave.
But that’s just the beginning. City council approved the first reading of an ordinance creating a public safety department, combining both fire and police under one command — the director of public safety. According to the ordinance, the police chief may act simultaneously as the director; however, each department will remain distinct departments.
Randy Alexander currently holds a dual role of city manager and police chief. The director will be responsible for establishing standard operating procedures as well as other administrative and operational policies. The second reading will be voted on in the next council meeting.
Another upcoming change for the citizens of Guyton is the amendment to the water and sewer ordinance regarding the cut-off date for nonpayment. Once the second reading amending the date is approved by city council, citizens will have to make sure their water bill is paid by the 20th of each month, or else they risk a $35 penalty fee in addition to having their services terminated no earlier than the 28th. Upon approval of the second reading, this amended ordinance will go into effect.
Furthermore, Guyton has now moved ahead with the creation of an open records policy, requiring the public and media to follow a set procedure when requesting access or copies of open records. For example, city hall may charge a fee of not more than 25 cents per page, in addition to any research and retrieval time charged at the rate of the lowest paid employee who is capable of pulling the records.
In regard to the controversial proposed 500,000 gallons-per-day wastewater treatment facility on Riverside Drive, Alderman Phillip King announced that while they have “not stopped the project as far as the plant is concerned,” they have “slowed it down somewhat.”
“We’re still in talks with Springfield,” he said. “Also, I met with a county commissioner last week who said they would like to talk with us again. I told them we would be more than happy to talk to them.”
However, he pointed out that “we can still end up paying anywhere from $4 (million) to $8 million even if we scale back.”
King pointed out that all of these have been looked into in an effort to “make sure we spend the citizens money in a wise way.” He also said that the city has no plans within the next few weeks or so to advertise for the required public meeting on the environmental impacts of the project.
Also, citizens may have two opportunities to attend council meetings with more communications and signs posted.
Alderman Jeff Lariscy said he had received the request and wanted to propose that the city start contacting local churches. King agreed and suggested that they post a notice on the marquee. Mayor Michael Garvin asked council members to consider holding council meetings twice a month instead of just once.
“We should look at one being a night meeting and one being a morning meeting, so it gives everybody a chance to at least try and make a meeting,” he said.
Other agenda items approved or discussed:
• City received a grant for fire alarms. If there are senior citizens who do not have a fire alarm or have one that does not work, they can contact the city and they will come out and install an alarm for them free of charge.
• Approved acquisition of information technology equipment to be financed through the Georgia Municipal Association for $9,049.65 on a five-year term, annual payments of $2,000.57 at a fixed interest rate of 3.46 percent.
• Approved refinancing of fire department equipment for $222,177.53 with a five-year term of annual payments of $49,115.92 at a rate of 3.46 percent.
• Approved first reading of an amendment to the abatement of nuisances ordinance.
• Approved resolution for supporting the four water and sewer ad-hoc committees choice of nominees to the water regional planning council.
• Approved resolution adopting a water conservation and meter calibration program.