January 3, 2008
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Tipton with Councilman Ray leading in prayer. The minutes of the December 6, 2007 meeting and the called council meeting of December 21, 2007 were presented for consideration by Mayor Tipton. Councilwoman Winn made a motion to approve the December 6, 2007 minutes, Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Waller made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 21, 2007 called council meeting. The motion was seconded by Councilman Ray and passed with six affirmative votes.
The agenda for the January 3, 2008 council meeting was reviewed with Councilwoman Winn making a motion to approve the agenda. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Under administrative and committee reports, Councilman Rawlings stated that the History Committee will once again be selling calendars of historical homes in Bloomingdale at a cost of $20 with the proceeds going toward the cost to place markers on these homes. Councilman Rawlings pointed out that there were 100 of the calendars being printed and urged everyone to support the committee’s efforts by purchasing a calendar. Chief Gossett reported that through assistance from the Bloomingdale Police Department several four wheelers were recovered that had been stolen from Savannah and he commented that thanks to Detective Elliott and other department personnel, there were similar cases being solved on a regular basis. During the meeting, Fire Chief Tyler reported that the fire department had responded to 475 calls in 2007 with an average response time of 3.9 minutes. Chief Tyler stated that there were currently 19 certified fire fighters with the department along with 18 Explorers.
Council was advised that the Planning & Licensing Committee met on December 21st to begin preparation of the Exhibit Map to be used as part of the proposed Overlay District Ordinance. After their review of the property boundaries along Hwy 80, the committee is recommending that a change be made to the proposed Overlay District Ordinance regarding the description of property along Highway 80 to be affected by the overlay district. The initial proposal discussed and approved by council at the December 6, 2007 meeting was as follows: The overlay district is to extend a minimum of 600’ from the centerline of the roadway for properties on both the north and south side of Highway 80 with the possibility of the overlay district extending further than the 600’ depth to encompass all of an individual tract with an Exhibit Map being part of the ordinance showing the overlay district boundaries. Since the City does not have surveys to show the meets and bounds of all properties or portions of properties that may lie within the 600’ boundary line, the committee felt the overlay district boundaries should be changed as follows: The overlay district is to be applied to all properties in their entirety abutting U.S. Highway 80 on the north and south side of the roadway with an Exhibit Map being part of the ordinance showing the overlay district boundaries. After a brief discussion, Councilman Strozier made a motion to approve the recommendation from the Planning & Licensing Committee regarding the change to the boundaries of the proposed overlay district to be applied to Highway 80. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton recognized Fire Chief Tyler who discussed with council the costs related to the renewal of the Fire Protection Contract between the City of Bloomingdale and the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. Chief Tyler stated that in previous meetings with members of the Public Safety Committee and Administrator Brady, the requested increase in the contract had been discussed and it was his understanding that when the called council meeting was held on December 21st the contract would be approved, however, the contract was tabled for additional discussion at tonight’s meeting. Chief Tyler pointed out that delays in reaching an agreement on the fire protection contract was not caused by the fire department as their funding request for 2008 was submitted during last year’s negotiations and although the fire department needed an increase last year, they agreed to accept the $40,000 offered by the City with the understanding they could come back for additional funds if a problem occurred. Chief Tyler stated that the fire department did run short of funds, but had decided to borrow monies internally rather than come back to the City. Chief Tyler advised council that in previous discussions, the clerk had mentioned a $5,776 cost for insurance on the City-owned vehicles to be paid by the fire department, but stated that the $65,000 fee did not include this expense. The Chief was advised that this requirement was included in the 2006/2007 contract and the $5776 covered the 2007 insurance costs. Councilman Ray asked if the $12,500 borrowed by the department for the radios could be paid from SPLOST funds and was advised by Attorney Dickey and Administrator Brady that if SPLOST fund were used the radios must be owned by the City. Attorney Dickey pointed out that he felt sure that an agreement could be worked out whereby the City owned the radios and leased them to the fire department for a nominal fee. After discussing this option, Chief Tyler stated that he did not know if the fire department was interested in having the City own the radios and pointed out that the $12,500 for the radios was not part of the $65,000 needed by the fire department for its operation. Councilman Myrick pointed out that it wasn’t that the City did not want to provide funds to the fire department, but the additional monies are not available in the current budget. Attorney Dickey questioned Chief Tyler about the $12,500 not being part of the $65,000 budget because according to the information the Chief had submitted for council’s review it was included in the $65,000 figure. Chief Tyler stated he would have to re-check the figures. Barbara Griffin asked when the current contract expired and Mayor Tipton advised her that the 2006/2007 contract that originally expired in June 30, 2007 had been extended until December 31, 2007 and the execution of the 2007/2008 contract was now being discussed. Councilman Myrick questioned Chief Tyler as to why the fire department would not agree for the radios to belong to the City since this seemed to be one way to help reduce the monies that would have to be provided from General Funds. Chief Tyler pointed out that he was only one person and the decisions were made by the board. Councilman Myrick stated that if the City was going to be able to meet the needs of the fire department in the future they were going to need the cooperation of the fire department. Councilman Ray stated that the City was willing to trust the fire department with vehicles with a value of $350,000 or more and he could not understand why the ownership of the radios by the City should be any different. A brief discussion was held regarding the $100,000 in SPLOST funds that the fire department was expecting the City to provide to them and Councilman Myrick pointed out that the City had agreed to provide these monies once the projects that were approved by council and included in the referendum were funded. Mayor Tipton advised council that the City needs fire protection and recommended the proposed contract be approved. Councilman Myrick asked how the funds would be obtained if council agreed to the contract and Councilman Ray stated that the only place it could come from would be funds on hand. Councilman Myrick advised Chief Tyler that the City had to take his word that these figures were accurate and as he recalled previous conversations with him regarding the fire department there were discussions about the City taking over the operation of the fire department. Councilman Strozier reminded Chief Tyler of the conversations that they had when he was on council about the importance of having a City-operated fire department and asked the Chief if he still agreed that this was the case. Chief Tyler stated that he had mixed emotions about the City operating the fire department, but there may be other options available and would like to continue discussions on these other options. Councilman Strozier stated that one of the issues that council agreed to being resolved before the renewal of the current contract was the ownership of the property and every time this comes up council is advised the board has problems with relinquishing the property. Several firefighters made comments to council about the importance of the volunteers and their contributions to the community. Ginger Tyler stated that the fire fighters felt there was animosity between the City and the fire department, but they were assured by several councilmembers that that this was not the case. Eutween Griffin pointed out that she gets about $100 off her insurance because of the fire department and Zeke Boatright stated that the fire department and the City needed to work together. Jim Meyers advised council that they should consider a user fee of $25 to $50 per year to generate funds for fire protection. Councilman Strozier stated that these discussions were already underway, but it would probably cost more than the $25 to $50 fees. Mayor Tipton pointed out that before this type action was taken a public meeting would be held to discuss this matter with the citizens. Martin Collins asked about putting this type fee on the garbage bills and was advised that this had been considered. Councilwoman Winn stated that in reference to a previous statement regarding support for the fire department, she stressed that the council wanted to work with the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department, but was concerned that the fire department was not willing to negotiate with the City on this contract and other issues related to fire protection. Chief Tyler stated that they were not willing to accept the additional $4,000 in funds because it was not enough money. Councilman Rawlings stated that he noticed that many of the fire fighters spend quite a bit of time at the fire department and he felt we should be able to come up with a solution to the financial issues. After additional comments from council regarding the importance of settling the property and funding issues before the next contract renewal, Councilman Myrick stated that in an effort to reach an agreement on this contract, he would like to state that these two issues (property and future funding) must be resolved as a stipulation for the approval of future contracts and council agreed. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve a budget amendment for $30,716 to include the $5,776 for the vehicle insurance costs for 2007 and an additional $24,940 for fire protection with funds coming from funds on hand. Councilman Rawlings seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Myrick then made a motion that the City proceed with plans to place into effect by June 30, 2008 fire protection user fees for the recovery of the additional monies to be added to the 2007/2008 fire protection contract and to use toward the costs related to fire protection in next year’s budget. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilman Myrick made a motion to approve the fire protection contract for FY 2007/2008 with the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. in the amount of $70,716. Councilman Rawlings seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilwoman Winn pointed out that Councilman Strozier had suggested the user’s fee option during last year’s fire protection contract negotiations, but no action had been taken at that time. Councilman Strozier asked Chief Tyler if he felt the fire department should be City-owned or remain independent. Chief Tyler stated that he felt that there were other options and he wanted both the fire department and the City to consider all options before any decision was made.
Mayor Tipton recognized Tim Baumgartner with EMC Engineering, Inc. who presented information related to obtaining bids for replacement of the lift station at Bloomingdale School. Mr. Baumgartner explained that the process would include advertising the bid for approximately 30 days with the work to take approximately 90 to 120 days. Council was also advised that the cost estimate for the work may increase due to the constraints at the site with the roof overhang and other obstructions, but, hopefully, the contractors will be able to do the work with as little impact to the existing structures as possible. Councilman Ray asked if there would be any benefit in waiting until school was out to do the work. Mr. Baumgartner stated that the City would have the option to work with the contract to delay construction, if necessary, but since there will be no down time involved in the project, it may not be necessary to postpone the work. Council was reminded that the old lift station will be used while the new one was being constructed and once construction is completed, the old unit will be demolished. After this discussion, Councilman Ray made a motion to authorize EMC Engineering, Inc. to proceed with the solicitation of the bids on the replacement of the lift station at the Bloomingdale Elementary School. Councilwoman Winn seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council reviewed two bids for the removal of trees from the City-owned property at Wildcat Dam Road. The bids were as follows: S.A. Allen, Inc. - $4.00 a ton for pine and $6.00 a ton for hardwood and Savannah River Timber Co., Inc. - $7.00 a ton for pine pulp and $7.50 a ton for hard pulp. Barbara Griffin asked about the exact location of the property and what were the City’s plans for the property. Mayor Tipton advised her that the property was on the corner of Wildcat Dam Road and the old railroad bed and the only thing the City was doing at this time was cutting the timber. Councilman Myrick made a motion to accept the bid from Savannah River Timber Co., Inc., Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton reported that council needed to appoint the Recorders’ Court Judge and Judge Pro-tem and establish the compensation for the Judge for 2008. Councilman Myrick made a motion to appoint Judge Tom Edenfield to serve as Recorders’ Court Judge with a monthly compensation of $1010 effective January, 2008, and to appoint Bob Galloway and Brandon Galloway as Judge Pro-tems for said court. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
The council discussed the setting of the annual sanitation rate for D.K. Morgan’s mobile home parks for 2008. It was noted that the City’s policy has been to base his annual fees on the monthly rate times the number of occupied lots in each park as of January 1st. Since Mr. Morgan pays the fees, in advance, for all of his parks, he has received a discount of $1.00 per month for each lot. Council was advised that the current rate is $15.00 per month; therefore, Mr. Morgan’s rate would be $14.00 per month. During the discussion, Barbara Rawlings questioned why citizens could not receive the same discount if they paid one year in advance. Ms. Rawlings was advised that this arrangement was cost effective for the mobile home parks only because the City did not have the extra expenses for the billing and collection of the fees on a monthly basis for all of the residents in these parks and with the payment made, in advance, the funds were immediately available for use by the City. Councilman Ray made a motion to establish the monthly sanitation fee for D.K. Morgan’s mobile home parks at $14.00 per month, per occupied lot as of January 1, 2008 provided Mr. Morgan pays the fees in advance. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton stated that the Planning & Licensing Committee recommends the adoption of the 2008 Occupational License fees as the same fees approved in 2007, however after discussions with City Administrator Brady and Attorney Dickey, he felt council needed to consider an increase in the base charge of the occupational license fees. The current base charge is $25, but the Mayor stated that council should consider increasing it to $250. Some members raised concerns about increasing the base that much in one year. The Mayor was reminded that prior to an increase in the occupational license fees, a public hearing would need to be held. It was also noted that the notices on the license fees needed to be sent out as soon as possible. After additional discussion, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to set a public hearing for January 28, 2008 to discuss the 2008 Occupational License Fees, Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilwoman Winn then made a motion to hold a called council meeting on January 28, 2008 immediately after the public hearing to set the 2008 Occupational License Fees. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council reviewed recommendations from the Planning Commission from their December 11, 2007 meeting. Mayor Tipton reported that Joey Jones had asked that action on the rezoning of the 10.65 acres he owns on Bloomingdale Road be tabled until he contacts the City for the rezoning to be added to a future agenda for council’s consideration. Councilman Ray made a motion to table this request. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Council reviewed a recommendation from the Planning Commission to make changes to Section 14-173 & Section 14-177 of the existing Telecommunications Ordinance. The change to Section 14-173 (a) includes the addition of the word “fine” to be consistent with the wording in the entire paragraph. The change to Section 14-177, #(9) adds “Upon approval of City Council” and deletes the wording “Structures may be located as close to each other as technically feasible, provided tower failure characteristics of the towers on the site will not lead to multiple failures in the event that one fails” so this section will be consistent with the wording of #(4). After a review of the changes, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to approve the changes to the Telecommunications Ordinance as recommended by the Planning Commission, to dispense with the second reading, and to adopt said changes to the ordinance. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton reported that the Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing for January 8, 2008 at 7:00pm to receive citizen input on a petition for the rezoning of property consisting of 11.22 acres owned by Barbara J. Meyers located on the northeast corner of Stagecoach Road and U.S. Highway 80 from R-A to P-C-2 and all interested parties are urged to attend.
The Mayor advised council that the Planning & Licensing Committee has recommendations to present for council’s consideration on appointments to the Planning Commission. Councilwoman Winn stated that with the adoption of the changes to the ordinance regarding membership to the Planning Commission, the Planning & Licensing Committee had been asked by Mayor Tipton to submit to council the names of persons who would be willing to serve on the commission. Councilwoman Winn expressed appreciation to all of those who have previously served on the commission and thanked them for their hard work. Attorney Dickey pointed out that the terms for the members were established by ordinance with Seat #’s 1-4 to serve three years initially with those terms then being reduced to two years and Seat #’s 5-7 to serve two year terms. With this explanation, Councilwoman Winn presented the following information for council’s consideration: Seat #1 – Robert Wellmaker; Seat #2 – Dexter Shearouse; Seat #3 – Susan Rogers; and Seat #4 – Doug McCurry. Councilwoman Winn made a motion to approve the appointment of these citizens to the Planning Commission to serve three year terms. Councilman Ray seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes; Seat #5 – Terry Jones; Seat #6 – Charles Hutchinson; and Seat #7 – Adrianne Brannen. Councilwoman Winn made a motion to approve the appointment of these citizens to the Planning Commission to serve two year terms. Councilman Myrick seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes. Councilwoman Winn made a motion to appoint the following as officers of the Planning Commission: Dexter Shearouse, Chairman; Terry Jones, Vice-Chairman; and Susan Rogers, Secretary. Councilman Strozier seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton recognized Gerard Cook who asked why the fire department’s request for funds had not been originally included in the budget and was advised that the council had included funds in the 2007/2008 budget for the fire protection contract, but the fire department was asking for additional monies and that was what had been discussed and approved at tonight’s meeting.
The Mayor stated that this concluded the items presented for consideration for inclusion on the council agenda prior to the deadline of Friday, December 28, 2007.
The accounts payable were presented for consideration with Councilman Ray making a motion to pay the bills. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Being no further business, Councilwoman Winn made a motion to adjourn at 8:35pm. Councilman Waller seconded the motion and it passed with six affirmative votes.
Mayor Tipton and all councilmembers were present at the meeting.
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.