Official Copy - Council Meeting Minutes February 17, 2011

Approved by council on March 3, 2011


The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Baxter leading in prayer.  Mayor Tipton reported the City Attorney would be running late and that Councilman Myrick is out sick.  The Mayor presented the draft copy of the minutes of the February 3, 2011 council meeting & called council meeting of February 9, 2011 for council’s consideration.  Councilman Crosby made a motion to approve the draft copy of the minutes as presented, Councilman Baxter seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.  The agenda of the February 17, 2011 meeting was reviewed.  Councilman Baxter made a motion to approve the agenda, Councilwoman Griffin seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


Mayor Tipton recognized the attendance of Principal King from Bloomingdale Elementary School, School Board Member Julie Gerbsch who would be addressing council later in the meeting, former Mayor/Councilmember Billy Strozier and former Councilmember Margel Winn.  Mayor Tipton requested Mrs. Winn give an update on the progress of the Veteran’s Memorial project in which she reported a drawing had been submitted by the engineer and they are working on preparing a model for review at a later date.


During administrative & committee reports City Administrator Akridge gave a financial report that included seven months of the fiscal year budget, with the general fund revenue at 46.75% and expenditures at 56.4%; the water revenue at 43% and expenditures at 53.2%; and the sewer revenue at 44% and expenditures at 53.75%.  Mr. Akridge recommended we keep a close watch on spending.  Mr. Akridge reported that the Local Option Sales Tax, which makes up one third of the budget, had been dragging behind but is catching up.   Mr. Akridge also reported the water/sewer committee had instructed him to look into water leak adjustment credits for which he has obtained copies of the policies from Pooler and Port Wentworth and he felt Port Wentworth had a very good policy the city could use as a model if they wished to proceed.  Council was also advised there would be an elected officials training session at Lake Blackshear in Cordele on April 15 & 16, 2011 if anyone would like to attend and a groundbreaking ceremony would be held on Friday, February 18th from 2pm to 4pm for the Port Wentworth Fire Department.  Mayor Tipton reported the fire building is still on schedule for completion in mid-March and also reported a good meeting was held this week to resolve the odor issue at the lift station and appreciated the assistance from everyone on this matter.  Councilman Rawlings reported that the filter media in the lift station was defective and will be replaced.  He also commented that a major expense of the water/sewer department was for the purchase of furniture and the phone system for the Adams Road building.  He pointed out that the city had opted out of purchasing the existing furniture and phone system in the building at the time the property was purchased.  He also expressed his appreciation for the financial report being given at the council meetings.  Councilman Rawlings invited everyone to the Bloomingdale History Society’s annual “Bloomingdale Supper” meeting on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 6:00pm with guest speaker Mr. Derek Duke, who will be giving a presentation on the H-Bomb located off Tybee Island.  Mrs. Griffin reported the new ball field is progressing well and advised that the fence has been installed.  She reported that the last basketball game was held on Monday and she expressed her appreciation to Principal King of Bloomingdale Elementary School for the use of the gym this season and their willingness to support our recreation program.






Savannah-Chatham Board of Education Representative Julie T. Gerbsch reported she along with Superintendent Dr. Lockamy, Chief Operations Officer Otis Brock and Chief Academic Officer Sharon Sand will be holding her annual town hall meeting to answer any question from citizens on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 6:00pm at the West Chatham Middle School.  She reported the board will be pursuing another ESPLOST referendum since the current ESPLOST is up this year.  Although development of the New Hampstead project has stalled and no homes have been built in that area the groundbreaking for the new high school is still scheduled for March or April with the opening of the school to be August, 2012.  She reported that while the development of the project is stalled the board will bus students into the school from surrounding projected areas.  The opening of the new Godley Station School took place in August 2011 and is already overcrowded and the board will be looking at new boundary lines.  With the recession, the board is facing a challenging budget cycle.  Ms. Gerbsch reported a new federal government fund called “Race to the Top” will be adopted next year which will set a standard formula for calculating graduation rates across the states but the challenge of this program is that with this calculation formula the graduation rates for our system may drop.   Councilman Crosby expressed his concern over the meeting held last year at Bloomingdale School and the lack of involvement of the public in the decision process regarding the change that was to take place at Bloomingdale School.  Councilman Crosby expressed his feeling that Ms. Gerbsch did not fully represent this district.  Mayor Tipton expressed his concern for the citizens who were given one chance to speak at only one meeting in which the board had already decided what was going to take place regardless of the opinions of the people and he felt that there should have been several meetings to give the citizens a voice in the matter.  Mrs. Gerbsch stated that she was successful in getting the school board to allow all the students currently attending Bloomingdale the opportunity to be “grandfathered in” and remain at Bloomingdale School, although approximately 40% were not in the proper zone to attend Bloomingdale Elementary.    


Citizen Billy Strozier advised that in his years of service he did not recall any member of the school board reporting to city council on the matters of the board and expressed his appreciation to Mrs. Gerbsch for taking the time to make these reports to the city.  Citizen Betty Burke questioned the success of the program at the new location and Mrs. Gerbsch reported the academic success has been very positive and even with this location being in an inner-city site there have been no safety issues at all.    


Principal John King expressed how pleased he was to be advised that he would be returning to Bloomingdale School for his tenth year and fulfill his desire to take the school through the transition from a magnet school to a neighborhood school.  He reported that in his opinion they have made the transition very successful with a current student count of 470 from 700 last year which has proved to be a relief for the police department and neighbors on Church and Pine Streets.  He advised that the school is continuing to offer great programs such as music, art and drama with standing room only for the events that have been held.  The school has entered into partnership programs with the Bloomingdale History Society and Crossroads Music with guitar lessons on Tuesday afternoons.  The school has been awarded the “State Distinguished School” award for eight years and is working hard to receive this award for the ninth year.  There have been a lot of renovations from the ESPLOST which included lighting, heat/air, new roof, handicap parking spaces and renovated bathrooms to meet ADA standards, they have removed one of the trailers from the property and the school is currently being repainted.  The school has a very strong and viable PTA program with a carnival being planned for March 12 from 11:00 – 2:00 and beautification programs are underway.  Mr. King stated it is his intention to continue to make this a great school whether the students are coming from all over the county or just from the neighborhood.           


Republic Waste Services representative Arthur Smith presented council with information regarding a curbside recycling program.  Mr. Smith reported the program would provide an additional 90-gallon cart specifically designated for regular recycling items such as plastic, glass, cans, paper, etc. with no separation of the items being required.  There is an incentive program known as Recyclebank which involves local and national businesses to offer customers reward points ranging from $15-$20 to help promote recycling and good citizenship.  The program requires a participation of 10,000 homes to qualify for the rewards program, but, at this time, Bryan County is participating with approximately 8,000 homes.  The cost to participate would be $2.90 per home with pick up being either once a week or once every other week whichever the city chooses.  Councilman Baxter questioned if the city would see any rebate in the current fee for tonnage being taken to the landfill.  Mr. Smith advised there would be a savings in the tonnage and it would also be a benefit in our solid waste reports for our comprehensive plan.        


City Administrator Akridge presented a request from Republic Waste Services for approval for a CPI based price increase of 1.2% retroactive to January, 2011 stating the increase request is based on operational increases such as insurance, labor and equipment.  Councilman Baxter made a motion to approve the 1.2% CPI based price increase effective January, 2011.  Councilman Kerby seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


Council reviewed a request from George R. Fort, Jr. for a home occupation license to operate the “office only” of a cleaning/landscaping/handyman service from his residence located at #109 Wallace Drive.  Mr. Fort stated he would be the only employee and there would be no traffic or materials from the business located at the residence and it would be used only for an office.  Council was informed that the owner of the property, Shirley Godbee had provided a letter authorizing him to use the residence for the business.  Councilman Crosby made a motion to waive the public hearing requirement and issue the home occupation license as requested by Mr. Fort.  The motion was seconded by Councilwoman Griffin and passed with five affirmative votes.


Councilman Crosby presented a recommendation from the Planning Commission to approve an amendment to the “List of Permissible and Conditional Uses” of the Zoning Ordinance to add a solar power field/supply business as a “conditional use” in agricultural and industrial zones.  Councilman Crosby made a motion to approve the first reading, to dispense with the second reading and adopt the amendment to the “List of Permissible & Conditional Uses” to add solar power field/supply as “conditional uses” in agricultural and industrial zones.  Councilman Baxter seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.  Citizen Martin Collins questioned if this would prevent an individual from pursuing solar panels for their homes and was advised this was for businesses pursuing the placement of solar fields.


Councilman Baxter presented a request from Chief Gossett for council’s approval to declare one of his patrol vehicles as surplus so it can be sold.  The vehicle is a 2002 Ford Crown Victoria, Serial #2FAFP71W02X103530, with 125,000+ miles.  Councilman Baxter made a motion to surplus the 2002 Crown Vic but to hold the vehicle in the city pool to see if it can be used in another department and, if not, then we could consider disposal of the vehicle.  Councilman Rawlings seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


Mayor Tipton presented a request from Chief Gossett for council to consider an increase in pay to $18.08 per hour for the police officer currently serving on the Chatham County Counter-Narcotics Team which would be consistent with Corporal pay (with 2 years of service) on our pay scale.  The Chief indicates that this would be incentive pay, not by rank, and states that since the City is reimbursed the amount we pay for salary and benefits for this officer, there will be no additional cost to the City.  Chief Gossett also states that if and when the officer returns to the City Police Department, his pay would be reduced to patrolman pay at the appropriate years of service on our pay scale.  Councilman Baxter made a motion to approve the salary increase to $18.08 per hour for the CNT officer.  Councilman Crosby seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


The Mayor presented a request from Chief Gossett to promote Detective Alan Elliott from Corporal to Sergeant and Sergeant Michael Foune to Lieutenant.  Chief Gossett stated the cost of these promotions for the rest of the fiscal year will be $1200.00, plus benefits for a total cost of approximately $1500.00 and he could take the cost of the increase from the Jail Fee line item and transfer it into the appropriate salary/benefit line items.   Councilman Baxter made a motion to approve the promotion of Detective Alan Elliott to Sergeant and Sergeant Michael Foune to Lieutenant with a budget adjustment to transfer the estimated $1500 cost of the increase from the Jail Fee line item to the appropriate salary/benefit line items.  Councilman Crosby seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


Council reviewed information presented by the City Administrator and the recreation committee on the purchase of bleachers, bases and other miscellaneous items needed to get the new ball field at Taylor Park ready for use.  The cost of the items is approximately $7200.  Councilwoman Griffin made a motion to purchase these items listed with the redistribution of $6600 from the operating supplies/expenses line items to the capital expenditure line item with the addition $600 to come from the general fund.  Councilman Rawlings seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes. 


Councilman Kerby presented information to council on the desire to place some type of memorial garden at the new Fire Station to honor the many people who have served and have contributed to the Bloomingdale Fire Department over the years.  Councilman Kerby stated that any citizens wishing to express their input could contact him with any information or ideas they may have. 


Mayor Tipton presented a request from the Public Safety Committee to hold an executive session and directed the City Attorney to advise council if the executive session request has met the criteria of the open meetings act.  The Attorney reported that based on the information submitted it met the criteria of the open meetings act.  Councilman Baxter made a motion to adjourn into executive session for discussion of personnel issues.   Councilwoman Griffin seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


At the conclusion of the executive session, Councilman Baxter made a motion to return to the general session and to execute the signed affidavit as required by the Open Meetings Act.  Councilman Crosby seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


The accounts payable were reviewed with Councilman Baxter making a motion to pay the bills.  Councilman Crosby seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


Councilman Kerby made a motion to adjourn at 8:50pm.  Councilwoman Griffin seconded the motion and it passed with five affirmative votes.


Respectfully submitted,  Diane Proudfoot, Assistant City Clerk


Mayor Tipton and Councilmembers Baxter, Crosby, Griffin, Kerby and Rawlings were present at the meeting.  Councilman Myrick was out sick.


Note:  Section § 50-14-1 of the Official Code of the State of Georgia Annotated requires that the minutes shall, as a minimum, include a description of each motion or other proposal made, and a record of all votes.  These minutes meet the minimum requirements.  However, in an attempt to provide as much information as possible to the citizens, the recording clerk has included additional background data and discussion on the subjects presented to council.  The statements of individuals are not verbatim and may be summary in nature.