City council hears auditor’s report, grants Anovion extension

Published 9:32 am Friday, May 31, 2024

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The Bainbridge City Council met for their monthly meeting last Tuesday evening. Following the invocation, pledge and approval of minutes, Mayor Reynolds read a proclamation recognizing May as Mental Health Month, presenting a plaque to representatives from Georgia Pines Mental Health Center.

Following this, BHS Band Director James Sewell made a special presentation to the council, the Joe Crine Award, “in appreciation for outstanding dedication and support to the Decatur County Band program.”

The next item on the agenda was the auditor’s presentation for fiscal year 2023. According to the presentation, the city’s general fund had a revenue of $9.9 million, an increase of $400,000 from the previous year. Roughly 78% of that revenue reportedly came from taxes. The total expenditures of the general fund were $22 million, and the end-of-year fund balance was reportedly $5 million.

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After the auditor’s presentation, the council considered requests for street closures, one being from Gallagher Dempsey to close several streets downtown for next year’s Jazz and Blues Festival, which was approved. After this, the council considered a special park use application for the pavilion at Carson Hatcher Park for May 26. This was also approved.

Next, the council considered a restatement regarding the 2023-2025 Defined Benefit Retirement Plan. The Georgia Municipal Association reviews these plans and requires renewal every four years for participating cities, though the city made no changes to the plan. The council moved to readopt the plan.

After this, Rick McCaskill with the Industrial Development Authority presented a second amendment to the Anovion project agreement. This amendment would give Anion an extension on the project until December of this year.

“I wish I could say this is something that’s unusual,” McCaskill said, “but I believe it’s happened on every project that we’ve had.” The council granted the amendment.

Next, the council entered into a public hearing regarding demolition ordinances, though nobody from the public spoke about any of the ordinances. The council approved the ordinances.

Next, the council entered into a public hearing about an amendment to the city’s alcohol ordinance, this being an amendment that would prohibit open containers of alcohol outdoors downtown past 11:00 PM. This amendment had been previously introduced at the last city council meeting. The council again voted to approve the ordinance amendment.

Gabriel Menendez took to the podium for the next pair of agenda items, the first being a consideration to declare three city trucks as surplus, with RDK Assets offering $110,000 for them. The city approved the surplus, which then led to the next item, a consideration of leases for two trucks from RDK Assets, with the money from the surplus trucks going to pay for one of the leases. The council voted to adopt the lease.

After this, Steve O’Neil presented recommendations from the Planning Commission, one regarding an application for a residential subdivision on 18 lots, bound by Evans Street, Green Street, Russ Street and Scott Street. The second recommendation regarded a rezoning of the property located at 1609 Pierce Street, from light industrial designation to highway commercial, “for the purpose of subdividing the property”. One citizen raised concerns over the Russ Street development, citing five acres on the site that had endangered species present as an issue, as well as water drainage issues that could cause flooding problems for neighbors, and parking issues, should street parking be used on Russ Street. Mayor Reynolds stated that the planning commission was working on a water runoff plan, and that residents would not be required to park on the street. The council accepted both recommendations.

Next on the agenda, O’Neil gave a division presentation about community and economic development, touching on things such as the completion of the new disc golf course, as well as the Shotwell-Scott Street corridor study and the upcoming Bainbridge comprehensive plan. O’Neil stated that he and Menendez were also working on updating development regulations and developing standard construction specs.

“We’ve had development regulations that haven’t been re-written or redone or looked at for the most part since 2007, probably 2009,” O’Neil said, “and we think things have changed, and we want to make sure we keep them fresh, keep them in line with the goals that we have as a city.” He added that the standard construction specs had never been adopted by the city as well.

After the presentation concluded, Roy Oliver gave an update on some major projects, including the State Route 97/Whigham Dairy Road project, as well as extending the city’s water line from MLK Jr. to Vada Road, which would be a 20-month construction contract. There was also an update on the city’s new fiber network, and the wastewater treatment plant.

The last item on the agenda was a consideration of a proposal to accept the services of the Mercer Group, which would perform a search for a new city manager. The council entered into the agreement.

After this, the meeting was adjourned.