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Council discusses future contractual plans for city services

The highlight of Monday night’s Swainsboro City Council meeting included a considerable discussion about the future of contract services for the city’s water, waste water, and public works. The governing body has spent the last several months mulling over the best plan for the future of these three integral operations and is drawing nearer to making a decision about who might receive the contract.

The City of Swainsboro’s water, waste water, and public works departments have all changed hands over the years. Several contractors have serviced the city’s needs, most recently Clearwater, who entered into a temporary contract to fill the aforementioned needs on an interim basis. The city will soon put out a request for proposals (RFP), and how the process would move forward from that point was the specific topic of discussion for the council on the evening of February 1.

According to City Administrator Al Lawson, the city’s attorney has already looked over the RFP, and the attorney’s recommended changes have already been made. However, the city leaders have the option to review the RFP and give their feedback before the process continues.

Once the RFP has been agreed upon by council, the notice will be published and different companies will then submit their individual sealed bids. All bids will be opened and reviewed by council at a later date, hopefully in March. The governing body will then have the opportunity to meet with and interview company heads to field questions and ensure the city’s needs as outlined by its leaders will be met completely and efficiently.

Mayor Charles Schwabe commented about the process, “The purpose of this document is to find out who is interested in doing this job in Swainsboro, Georgia. We as a group will go through the applications. This will take a while, but given what we’ve been through, there’s no more important job than this in the next few months. Because this is our chance to have an influence in these three city operations, we will be deliberate and detailed as we move forward. We’ve been working on this for at least three months. A lot of work has gone into this already, and we’ll continue working hard on this until we find the right candidate.”

No action was required at the meeting in regard to the RFP. Instead, council members were encouraged to take the documents, study them, come up with feedback, and submit their takes back to Lawson by this coming Monday, February 8, at the latest.

In other news, the city government voted to enter into the Joint Emanuel County Solid Waste Management Plan for 2020 through 2030. This 10-year plan works out an intergovernmental agreement between the County of Emanuel and the various municipalities within it to dispose of cities’ waste in the county transfer station. Julian Sconyers motioned to adopt the aforementioned agreement in the form of a resolution. Johnny Ray Stafford seconded, and the vote was unanimous.

Council also considered a game room application from Chevette Fields-Good doing business as Lounge 2020 at 406 Rentz Street. Because Fields-Good had met all requirements, John E. Parker motioned to approve the application. Rita Faulkner gave the second, and, again, the vote was unanimous. With the approval, Lounge 2020 has permission to operate 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday. The establishment is not permitted to sell or allow alcohol on the premises.

Lastly, council held a first reading for an ordinance change that will give Swainsboro Police Department, through the city’s charter, authority to act in regard to businesses operating without required licensure. No action was required for this agenda item, either.

During committee reports:

• Bobbie Collins, as head of the Fire Department, inquired about the new county fire chief and the extent of his involvement in the city. Schwabe noted that newly hired Nick Ivey was hired to coordinate with the volunteer fire departments throughout the county and reiterated that Swainsboro’s fire chief is still Mike Strobridge. Ivey is, however, utilizing office space at headquarters on Green Street because the county helped contribute funds to build that space. Collins commended Strobridge’s many contributions but noted that in doing so, she in no way was attempting to demean Ivey’s new employment but rather wanted clarification about his role.

• Schwabe, in his mayoral comments, noted that he and Lawson were working together to find a work detail for trash. He also gave an update on the local and statewide status COVID-19 and vaccinations.

• Chief Randy Ellison briefly discussed with council a detail about hiring a part-time code enforcement officer, and Parker requested Schwabe add one more person from council to a committee he is serving on in lieu of another councilperson’s absence.

Ricky Stevens, servant for District 1, was unable to attend Monday’s meeting due to sickness.

There being no further business, council adjourned. The group will next meet March 1 at 6 p.m. at Swainsboro Fire Department.

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