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City Council November Meeting Part I: Water, Prayer, and Rules of Decorum

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

By Deanna Ryan

Mayor Greg Bennett, council members Gregory Quarterman, Bobbie Collins, Julian

Sconyers, Johnny Ray Stafford, John E. Parker and David J. Davis III, along with city attorney Jon Levis and city administrator Melissa Kirby met Monday, Nov. 7th at 6 p.m. at City Hall to discuss two items of old business and 11 items of new business.

Due to the length of the meeting, six items will be presented this week and seven items will be covered next week.

After an invocation by Chief Randy Ellison and the pledge, the council read the October regular meeting and workshop minutes. Councilman Parker noted Matthew Bright’s request to speak at the October meeting was not in the minutes. City administrator Kirby and Mayor noted these requests are often put in writing, but an amendment could be made to allow Bright to speak. Minutes were passed. Councilman Parker made a motion to amend the agenda to allow Mr. Bright to speak. Motion passed. Councilman Sconyers motioned to make an amendment to talk about Wreaths Across America which also passed. Councilman Davis made a motion to change the first 2023 council meeting to January 9th. Mayor Bennett agreed to change the date and invited council members to speak with him if there was any issue with the change.

In old business the council voted to adopt the 2022 millage rate. Mayor Bennett noted that in the last two years the millage rate dropped 28% from 19.45% to 14.191%. The lower rate was approved unanimously.

Also part of old business, Mayor Bennett requested the council vote to move ahead on the 2021 and 2022 Low Maintenance & Improvement Grant projects to improve Thomas, Dawson, and Youngblood streets, along with Rebecca Drive, Waller Pass and Lakewood Drive. Motion to start on six streets passed.

In new business, John McClellan with Turnipseed Engineers addressed the council regarding the elevated tank project. Bids were made on October 27th to replace the 100,000 and 75,000 offline tanks with a 500,000 gallon tank. According to McClellan, the extra capacity in the larger tank can be used to ensure “sustained fire protection and address some pressure concerns on the west side of the city.” The two companies that bid were Phoenix Fabricators from Avon, Indiana and Caldwell Tanks from Louisville, Kentucky. Phoenix’s bid came in at $2,387,248, while Caldwell’s bid was $2,792,500. Both of the bids were higher than the 2019 projection of 1.7-1.9 million. Turnipseed has applied for several grants, received one for $500,000 and is waiting until March for the outcome of another possible $500,000. McClellan stated the council could take three actions, “No action, rebid or move forward.” He did not recommend “no action” because of pressure concerns. He reminded the council that what started the process was the Environmental Protection Division’s letter to the city that the tanks were beyond repair and needed to be reconstructed. McClellan also stated he could not recommend the option to rebid because in today’s market “it’s not reasonable that you’ll get a better bid.” He suggested the city could put the project on hold until a grant applied for on Oct. 31st came through, but they will not know the results until March. Mayor Bennett asked if purchasing a smaller 250,000 tank would save the city money. McClellan stated that actually the labor and construction are so expensive that “the smaller the tank, the more costly it is.” Downsizing from a 500,000 gallon tank to a 300,000 gallon one would only save the city $100,000. On a positive note, McClellan said the contractors said they could possibly hold the price for 6 months. Mayor Bennett suggested the group wait to see if more grant money could come in before they decide. The motion was made to postpone the decision until March (120 days) due to applying for additional funding.

Stanley E. Wimberly with Men Reaching Men Outreach addressed the council regarding the upcoming prayer vigil on November 19th at the Boneyard. According to Wimberly, the last prayer vigil this year will be “Standing in the Gap for Others.” President of the organization, Willie Harden, stated, “We want leaders to come forward and stand in the gap. We are asking that people who have a desire to have a change in the community come out and pray with us. It will take place on the 19th at 1:00pm at the Boneyard. Come. We have so much to pray for.” Wimberly invited leaders from local, state government, education, police and fire departments to come out and stand in prayer to reach others.

The council considered a game room license application for advertisement for Shaishav Patel A&D Mart LLC located at 504 East Main Street. Motion passed unanimously.

The council considered a city policy entitled Rules of Decorum for All Meetings (RDAM). The purpose of the policy is to “foster an atmosphere of civil and courteous discourse, even and especially when discussing contentious topics at all meetings held by the City of Swainsboro.” (RDAM) Section A contains general rules applicable to all (Mayor, Council, Staff, Citizens). These include speakers: addressing comments to the Mayor and council, not audience, refraining from personal attacks, addressing only the agenda item under consideration, keeping remarks and questions brief (no more than 5 minutes), not creating distracting noises. Section B of the policy contains additional rules for members of the council and Mayor that include them: conducting themselves in a professional, respectful manner, not speaking until recognized by the Mayor or presiding officer, focusing criticism on policies, positions, or information and not people. Finally, section C states the Mayor or presiding officer has the authority to enforce the rules. According to administrator Kirby, “Basically this will be a city policy, so when the public comes to the meeting, they would know how to present their ideas when they get on the agenda.” The motion to pass the policy received a tie vote, 3 to 3, with Mayor Bennett breaking the tie to accept the motion.

Next week read about additional city funding from the police and fire department, Moses Archie’s concern with code enforcement process, Rita Faulkner’s concern with budgetary provisions for the theater and Gumlog gym, Building Inspector Bruce Kirby’s recommendation for Paris Avenue, Matthew Bright’s request for drainage concern updates, and important information on Wreaths Across America.

Stay tuned to The Crossroads Chronicle and stay informed!