New Climax council members join, Hickox resignsPublished 6:25am Friday, January 13, 2012
By JEAN OUZTS
As the New Year began for the Climax City Council on Monday night, two newly-elected council members joined but one also tendered her resignation.
Newly-elected Robert “Bob” Jones and Vanessa Martin took the oath office Monday. Martin had been appointed to fill the remaining term of the late Ronnie Bishop last year, and was elected in November 2011 to continue serving.
However, the remaining council members were disappointed to hear Kaye Hickox resign, due to a misunderstanding about the pickup of street trash such as leaves. According to records, the city ordinance states leaves must be bagged, but it does allow a citizen to burn his or her own leaves in the ditches. However, the maintenance department doesn’t pick up leaves that aren’t bagged.
Hickox said she had an issue with not picking up the leaves without being bagged. Due to her health condition, she said she could not burn or bag them, and because of her father’s age (89) he did not need to do it. She also stated that she did not ask for preferential treatment due to serving on the council, nor did she want it. She said that the little town she grew up in had changed to the extent that she was ashamed to serve on the council, and did not want to serve where one neighbor couldn’t extend a helping hand to another. She stated she was resigning effective immediately and walked out. No action was taken on replacement of Hickox; however, Mayor Charles Hadsock did ask her to reconsider.
In other business: the council unanimously appointed council member Vanessa Martin as the new mayor pro-tem. The mayor pro-tem, according to the city ordinance, is to be the council member receiving the next-highest amount of votes in an election year. In the case of an election, such as 2011, where the opponents had no opposition, the council is authorized to appoint a mayor pro-tem to fill the office until another election.
Mayor Hadsock gave his annual report for 2011, as follows:
“Due to the weak economic state of our economy, 2011 continues to present many ups and downs to the operation of our city government. Our revenues continue to decline and our expenses, to maintain the same level of services, increased steadily during 2011.
“Federal and state governments continue to shift responsibility and cost down to the local municipalities. Although our revenue is shrinking, we did not increase our mileage rate, there were no reductions in city services and we had no employee layoff or furloughs. I am pleased to report, as we enter into 2012, the city of Climax is solvent; we are able to meet our obligations. For the past two years we have held the line on expenditures, spending only what is necessary for the operation of city government. We continue to search for ways to improve the operational efficiency of our employees and the operation of our city government and this will be a continuing process thru my term as Mayor.
“With the help and support of our citizens, especially with regard to the city burn pit, we can improve the operation by following the rules regarding the diameter and lengths that can be placed in the pit. The city does not have large equipment to move large trees that are placed in the pit.
“GIRMA, our insurance carrier, has requested that we move the burn pit to another location, due to the proximity of the gymnasium, or that the city stop burning yard trash and buy a chipper. Both alternatives present expenditures that are presently not within our financial or budgetary means.”
The Mayor did announce that the city could move the burn pit back an additional 50 feet and this would improve the situation.
The Mayor went on to review items accomplished in 2011, such as installing 42 inches of culvert pipe in the drainage ditch, reducing maintenance costs, and improving safety on Martin Luther King Drive.
Other items reviewed included:
• Completed 2011 Department of Transportation (DOT) allocation for resurfacing 0.09 miles on Broad Street.
• Painted Gazebo at Parker Park, also painted restrooms at Parker Park and painted restrooms at the back of the Depot.
• Cancelled $8,000-plus maintenance contract with Utility Service for water tank. Setup escrow account in the amount of $5,000 per year to cover maintenance of water tank, a $3,000 minimum savings annually.
• Received a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grant for water improvements in the city, in the amount of $359,952.
• Collected approximately 3.5 tons of trash and transported it to the county landfill during free April trash days.
• Continued negotiations with Georgia DOT to restrict larger trucks, such as 18-wheelers, to use the second exit for access to State Route 262, and eliminate present problems with trucks moving thru town.
• Continued working with GIRMA on resolution of Joel Jenkins’s workman’s compensation claim.
In other new business:
The council took under consideration a recommendation by police officer Chris Jordan to reduce the city speed limits from 45 miles to 30 or 35 miles within the city, due to safety hazards. This was postponed to be investigated further.
The Glock sidearm with the auto switch has been returned and a new Glock 22-.40 caliber has been ordered. This utilized donated funds for this purpose, at a price of $414.
A discussion was held on the yet-to-be-resolved proposal to extend the present city limits, one mile in each direction. This is something to be considered and no decision was made. The expense is something to be carefully considered.
The council voted to temporarily extend the city clerk’s working hours from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., to 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This is due to extra paper work from the grants, and other city business. This hour change is until further notice and can be changed again.