Roper Takes Oath of Office as 25th Mayor of Vidalia
2021 Budget Approved, Ready for Public Hearing
The Vidalia City Council meeting room in the Municipal Annex was packed for the Council’s regular session on November 9 as Mayor-Elect Doug Roper took the oath of office. Toombs County Probate Judge Larry Threlkeld administered two oaths to Roper—one the oath of office and the second the loyalty oath. Roper, the 25th Mayor of Vidalia, will serve the unexpired term of the late Ronnie Dixon, who passed away in April of this year after serving since 1994.
Roper’s wife, Marly, his two young sons and other family members were present to witness the event, which happened to be on the Ropers’ 18th wedding anniversary. Another point of interest in the election process was that the Ropers’ boys, aged eight and five, share the same birthday, October 22, and that was the day that Roper and his wife went to vote early.
“I want to say to the citizens of our great city, thank you for electing continued from page
me as your next mayor.” Roper said. “I can assure you that I will give it my very best. I, along with these other councilmen, will work hard to make sure our city continues to grow and prosper. I look forward to this opportunity. Thank you very much.”
When asked about his first order of business as Mayor, Roper said it will be interviewing and hiring the next Finance Director/ City Clerk position to replace Bill Bedingfield, who retires in December. “Bill Bedingfield has served our city well in this capacity for a long time and it will be vitally important that we fill this position with someone who has knowledge and experience in this field,” Roper commented.
“Additionally, collaborating with Mr. Overstreet (City Manager Nick Overstreet) and the council members on current city plans, as well as sharing with them concerns I heard while campaigning, will be of the utmost importance as well. I look forward to joining a team of strong leaders and I am excited to see what the future holds for our great city,” the new Mayor said.
Bedingfield presented the Finance Committee report on the 2021 budget, noting that he and the City Manager “put a lot of time and effort into this as we move through an extremely serious time in our financial situation within the city. The budgets are balanced and it takes into account everything we needed to do for our employees.” The general fund budget was set at $8.998 million, which is 3.07% over the 2020 budget.
The Council approved the budget. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled December 14 prior to the regular Council meeting.
In public comments, Vincent Drummer asked if there is a resolution on the operation of school zone cameras. City Manager Overstreet said the police and fire department committee will review the ordinance and potentially change some parts of the ordinance. Drummer stated that the public had been misinformed initially, and remains confused, about the hours of enforcement of reduced speeds through school zones. He stated that it is misleading to have the lights flashing at certain times and to not know when cameras are recording. He requests a notice that says tickets are being issued all day, if this is, in fact, the case. Drummer also referred to the need for speed patrol on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Facts about the school zone cameras may be found at https:// www.vidaliaga. gov/ police/ page/ school-zone-speed-cameras- faq.
Drummer also brought to the Council's attention an area in Ward 1, at 301 Winona Street, where trees are overhanging and dropping limbs. One such limb dropped upon and damaged the new car, purchased in Vidalia, of a visitor to the city. The claim of $1,800 was submitted to the insurance company by City Treasurer Bedingfield, but the insurance company denied payment. Drummer asked that the city pay for the repair of the car, so that the young lady, a single parent, will not be penalized by her insurance company for damage by no fault of her own.
An intent to speak from the floor at city council meetings must be submitted on the Thursday prior to the regularly scheduled meetings on the second Monday of each month. The request form may be found here: https://www. vidaliaga.gov/citycouncil/ webform/speaker-floor.
Overstreet reported that Ohoopee Regional Library System Director Cameron Asbell requested approval of two appointments to fill vacant seats on the Library Board of Directors. The Council approved the appointment of Carol Rice and Lisa Chesser to fill these seats.
Overstreet also presented the Hazard Mitigation Plan Resolution for approval. This plan, authored by the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission in 2019, and in cooperation with the City of Lyons, the City of Santa Claus, and Toombs County, allows local governments to apply for grant funding for repairs such as damage done by hurricanes. If a hazard mitigation plan is not in place, needed funding cannot be requested. Council approved this resolution.