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Lyons Council Addresses Alcohol License Dilemma

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An overlooked alcohol license was addressed during the Lyons City Council meeting on September 8. Aman Quick Stop has been retailing alcohol within city limits for four years without a city license to do so. Owner Jayendrabhai Patel explained that he was unaware the convenience store needed a city license to sell the product. “I have a state license,” he explained. “Because of that, I thought I was O.K. and had all I needed.” Patel’s obtaining of a state license without a city license is an oversight on the state’s part, according to City Manager Jason Hall. Hall said that the City was made aware of Patel’s situation during a check on business licenses for establishments within the city limits. Upon realizing the issue, city officials suspended the convenience store’s alcohol retails until a city license could be granted. Councilman John Moore expressed his frustration with the situation. “I do not understand how we could overlook such an important qualification for a local business,” he said. “We have to make sure that this does not happen again.” Hall informed the Council that the incident occurred because of the City’s lack of a Code Enforcement Officer. “Normally, this would be the work of a code officer. I think it would be beneficial to create that position when the budget comes back up next year,” he stated. The Aman Quick Stop was awarded an alcohol license for the remainder of the year, but this license must be renewed in December.

I-16 Billboard Funding

The council approved a $2,650 contribution to a billboard advertising campaign sponsored by the Greater Vidalia Chamber, the Toombs County Development Authority, the Vidalia Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Downtown Vidalia Association, and Lyons Main Street. The advertisement highlights dining in the area, while also informing travelers of the exit numbers on which the area is located. The billboard contribution will be made using the City’s hotel/motel tax.

Councilman Larry Griggers opposed the contribution, noting, “It is the City that is paying for this billboard, not the Lyons Main Street association— but the Lyons Main Street association is a partner in the work, and the City administration is not. Basically, we’re paying for a project we haven’t been a part of.” Hall explained the partners’ logic behind the funding proposal, stating that the hotel/motel tax was previously given to the Main Street association in prior years. “Daphne (Walker) has been very instrumental in the designing of this advertisement,” he said of the Main Street Director. “She has worked as an arm of the city.” The billboard is already displayed alongside Interstate 16 and will remain posted until September 2022. Budget and Millage Rate

The Council approved the FY22 budget and the tentative FY22 millage rate during the meeting. This budget has increased while the millage rate remains the same.

The overall budget for the city is $5,377,070; this budget has not seen much change in the general fund from last year, as the City continues to be allotted $4,801,820 for its general fund.

However, the budget has greatly changed in the Water, Sewer, and Sanitation Enterprise funds; these funds have increased because of the annual payment for the renovation of the North and East Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is $680,000, as well as the construction of a cross-town force main, that was financed through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. This increase in expenses is funded through the user fees for water and sewer services, and overall increases the budget.

The proposed millage rate for the city of Lyons in 2022 is 3.89 mills, which is the same rate as last year. Property values have increased 11% according to the local digest, which states that the net digest value in 2020 was $111,077,314 and increased to $120,895,763 in 2021. This increase comes as real and personal property values have increased by $12 million, motor vehicles have increased in value by $2.5 million, mobile homes’ value have increased by $100,000, and timber values have increased by almost $20,000.

Thus, with this millage rate, there will be an 8.84% net tax increase, totaling $38,194 more. The total levied taxes will shift from $432,091 to $470,285. The City of Lyons reports that the increase in property taxes will only be 2.91%.

In preparation of the adoption of this millage rate, three public hearings will be conducted at Lyons City Hall: one hearing on September 23 at noon, one hearing on September 29 at noon, and one hearing on September 29 at 6 p.m. The millage rate will be approved at a called continued from page

meeting on September 29 that will directly follow the 6 p.m. public hearing.

Election Agreement

The Lyons City Council renewed the agreement between the City of Lyons and the Toombs County Board of Commissioners to conduct all elections until 2023. This is a reoccurring agreement that has existed since the creation of the Toombs County Board of Elections. Through this agreement, Lyons agrees to pay the Toombs County Board of Commissioners $12,000 per General, Run-off, or Special Election. This money is to fund any supplies needed for elections, as well as the pay for poll workers. Currently, per Election Day, poll managers in Toombs County receive $180 commission, while assistant poll managers receive $155, and clerks receive $120. Workers for early voting receive $10 per hour. Also within the agreement, the Toombs County administration is responsible for qualifying candidates for elections; applicable qualifying fees are then split between the Board of Commissioners and the City of Lyons. Publishing election notices and assisting elected city officials with filing ethics disclosures when requested is also the duty of the County because of this agreement.

Road Work

The bid for the paving and storm water improvement of West Oglethorpe Avenue, North Lanier Street, and North Lexington Street was awarded to McLendon Enterprises for $324,831.94, which was the lowest bid. The bid was opened on August 5, and three total bids were received. This work will be funded through the third band of City allotment funding from the Georgia Transportation Investment Act, which was passed in 2010.

West Oglethorpe Avenue will be paved from its intersection with U.S. Highway 1 to its intersection with Georgia Highway 292. North Lanier and North Lexington will be improved from their intersection with East Toombs Avenue to the intersection with Highway 292; these streets will receive storm water and sidewalk improvements.

Community Events

During the Mainstreet report, Lyons Main Street Director Daphne Walker announced that a downtown trick-or-treat event, “Scare on the Square,” will occur on Saturday, October 30, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. This event was planned after several merchants from the Main Street area voiced their enthusiasm about hosting such an event. Walker shared that several decorations have been purchased to make the event festive, including skeletons that will appear to be climbing on the buildings. Because of this event being planned, the Council voted to have the citywide trick-or-treating at the same time. Greater Vidalia Chamber President Michele Johnson shared that the Altama Museum in Vidalia will be having an open house and ribbon cutting event on Thursday, September 16, at 5 p.m. This event will allow the public to see the improvements that the Museum building has recently undergone.

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