Posted on

Alamo Adopts $1.6 Million Budget, Sets Millage Rate

The Alamo City Council faced a lengthy agenda at its monthly meeting on November 14 with items for consideration ranging from adopting the annual budget to making plans for Christmas in the City.

The Council adopted a $1,656,000 budget for 2024 and rolled back the millage rate to 8.177; the previous millage rate was 8.491. City Manager Jeff Floyd said next year’s budget is $55,000 below the 2023 budget.

Christmas in the City

The Council heard from David Leatherwood, a producer for a St. Petersburg, Florida-based podcast called “The Benny Show.” Leatherwood pitched the idea of the show coming to Alamo for the annual Christmas in the City event on December 2. Activities would include setting up a Christmas store in a cityowned structure where children can come inside and shop for free. The proposal also includes benefiting five community families who are in need.

Leatherwood assured the Council that Alamo would not have to provide any funding for the event. The podcast would also feature footage of the city’s annual night-time Christmas Parade. Leatherwood said the show’s intent is to visit various communities across the country to make Christmas a little happier for those in need. He said the show has recently visited East Palestine, Ohio, following a train derailment disaster there in February 2023.

The Council embraced the concept but requested that Leatherwood submit a written proposal that addresses liability, among other issues. Leatherwood agreed to do so.

It was reported that over 50 food and crafts vendors have signed up so far for Christmas in the City, and entertainers are being sought. The City will stage the celebration from 1-8 p.m. downtown. The parade is scheduled downtown at 6 p.m., with a movie being shown at 7 p.m. There will also be photo opportunities with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and The Grinch.

TIA Switch, LMIG Project Floyd asked the Council to consider making a swap with Transportation Investment Act (TIA) -funded projects in order to expedite a much-needed sidewalk improvement in front of the U.S. Post Office on Railroad Street. e un even sidewalk poses a hazard to citizens who not only frequent the Post Office, but traverse the sidewalk to get to other businesses along the street.

Floyd proposed swapping the timeframe for a paving project on Pearl Street with the sidewalk work. He said both projects will cost the same amount of money, but switching them around would ensure the sidewalk is addressed first. The street project was originally scheduled during the first band of TIA-funded projects. The sidewalk was scheduled for the third band, and without making the change, the sidewalk work would not be started until January 1, 2031. Floyd explained that the roadwork could be postponed since the street is in reasonably good condition, but the sidewalk needs immediate attention.

The Council agreed to the switch and also approved an LMIG (Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant) project to complete paving on First and Second Streets, which is part of the community fiveyear comprehensive paving plan for the city.

BOE Agreement

An on-going discussion between the City and the Wheeler County Board of Education regarding a right-of-way infraction and impact on a city-owned lift station was resolved when the Council accepted an offer from the Board. The City had approached the BOE about encroachment on a right of way on Wheeler Street behind the new county school. The encroachment occurred as the new school was being constructed. The street was improved and repaved during the school’s construction.

The City also complained that additional stress has been placed on its water and sewer lift station on Pearl Street, adjacent to the new school. The station had previously handled water/ sewer services for 30 area homes and a high school about 40% of the size of the new school. After several discussions between City and BOE officials, an agreement was reached that the BOE would offer $53,555 to the City in exchange for permanent encroachment on Wheeler Street. The City plans to use the funds provided by BOE for the improvement of the lift station.

Other Issues

The Council decided to defer action on adopting its proposed burn ordinance pending its amendment regarding fines. The Council added that a warning would be issued prior to imposition of fines, which would be increased each time an offense was committed.

Enforcement Code Of- ftcer Leki(e Holt-Robinson reported that she has thus far issued 21 letters for violations of City Codes regarding maintenance of yards and residences. The Council voted last May to approve the hiring of Holt-Robinson to enforce the city’s ordinance for cleaning up and clearing derelict property. She began work July 1, and visits the city on a regular basis to target problem areas and to enforce the city ordinance. After determining that there is a violation of the city ordinance Holt- Robinson sends a notiftca tion to the property owner with a timeframe for correcting the violation. A fine or court referral is a possible outcome if violations are not corrected.

The Council opened two bids from area sanitation companies for refuse collection, one from its cur- rent provider, Republic, based in Higgston; and Ry land, based in Dublin. The Council deferred making a decision on a service provider pending receiving further information to allow for better comparisons of the proposals. The City’s cur- rent contract with Republic expires next January. Council members also tabled approving an agreement for uniforms for city workers pending further consideration, but enthusiastically approved budgeting $15,000 for new Christmas lights for the city, as well as a Thanksgiving bonus of a turkey and cash for city employees.

The Council also got behind a proposal from the City Manager to provide 50% funding for a forestry service matching grant to buy equipment for the Alamo Volunteer Fire Department. A total $22,000 is needed for vehicle tires, fire line tape, radios and other equipment. A portion of the funds can come from SPLOST, specifically to fund radios. The department not only provides fire protection inside the city limits, but outside the city on a mutual aid basis.

The Council tabled a proposal to budget $10,000 to purchase computers for City Hall administration and the Police Department pending further discussion. New City Hall is expected to be ready for occupancy at the end of November. An open house will be held after the New Year.

Alamo Police Chief Karen Zander reported that her department answered 184 calls and collected $1,196 in fines in October.

The Alamo Fire Department answered 10 calls during October. Since August, the Department has held seven meetings and trainings totaling 20 hours, participated in the City of Alamo’s Trunk or Treat and the Fall Festival at the K-12 School, and conducted annual fire prevention programs at the K-12 School and Head Start. The Council will hold its next regular session on December 18 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Recent Death Notices