The Swainsboro City Council and Mayor met Monday evening, December 4, 2023, at 6:00 P.M. for their regularly scheduled meeting. Councilpersons Davis, Parker, Quarterman, Sconyers and Stafford were present. Councilperson Collins was delayed. Mayor Bennett was present. Pastor Rusty Moore brought the invocation which was then followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Minutes of the regular meeting of November 6, 2023, and a special zoom meeting of November 28, 2023, were presented. The minutes of the November 6, 2023, meeting have previously been reported in the November 8, 2023, issue of the Forest Blade. The minutes of the November 28, 2023, zoom meeting were provided December 4, 2023, and are as follows:
The special meeting of the Mayor and City Council was held on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at 6:00 P.M. via Zoom Video Conference. Following a prayer of invocation, Council considered the renewal of the City Administrator (Herman Middlebrooks) contract. Councilperson Davis asked a question regarding the vacation time. Councilperson Davis made a motion to vote on the new contract. Councilperson Stafford seconded the motion. Mayor Bennet asked for a roll call vote. The motion passed unanimously. No further business was conducted at this meeting.
December 4, 2023, meeting: Under old business, council considered acceptance of applications for rideshare/taxi license and approved by a 5-0 vote. Council granted approval for the alcoholic beverage license for Edward Hill Daniels at 403 North Coleman St. by a vote of 5-0. The council granted approval for an alcoholic beverage license for Keith Wilcox at 206 Harmon Rd. by a 5-0 vote.
Under new business, council considered acceptance of advertisement for application for alcoholic beverage for Atul Y Pandya at 227 West Main St. A motion to accept failed for lack of a second. The council considered hiring new city personnel to replace 4 positions. Motion was approved by a 6-0 vote. The council considered bids for city wide lawn maintenance. The motion for awarding the 12-month contract to Southern Landscape Management was approved 6-0. The council considered the expense of repairs to street equipment of $14,898. Approval of a motion to repair by Yancey Equipment was passed by a 6-0 vote. The council approved replacement of filters at the wastewater plant in the amount of $12,262.00 by a 6-0 vote.
The council considered approval of the city attorney contract. Discussion by Councilperson Collins questioned the violation of a requirement in the City Charter that stated a set fee must be given for city legal services. Collins’ interpretation differed with the current arrangement with Attorney Jon Levis. Levis and Mayor Bennett stated that an hourly fee was all that was required. Collins opinion was that a fee with a set total amount must be provided not an hourly fee with no cap on total legal expenses incurred annually. The new city budget provides for an allocated amount of $75,000 for services of a city attorney as well as an additional $50,000 for outside counsel. The vote to approve the new contract passed 5-1, with Collins opposed.
Council also considered fees for audit services for 2024 and approved a budgeted amount between $23,000 and $25,000.
Change orders required in the Karrh Theater renovations were discussed. Due to questions by Council, the discussion was moved to Executive Session. As of press time, The Forest-Blade did not have the results of the discussion.
Calendar dates for city meetings in 2024 were also approved.
Councilperson Sconyers reminded the public of the Wreaths Across America project which will take place on Dec.16 at the City Cemetery and other cemeteries throughout the county honoring the burial sites of our veterans. This Christmas over 2,000 wreaths will be placed.