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Questions arise regarding Unadilla Downtown Development Authority

By BECKY CRISSMAN
becky.crissman@cordeledispatch.com

UNADILLA — Mayor and members of the city council met here Tuesday night to handle matters of the city.
Following a prayer and the pledge led by Myron Mixon the board got down to the business at hand which began with the approval of the night’s agenda and the minutes from the April 26 meeting. One change had to be made to the minutes. Councilman Dexter Whittaker listed as present at that meeting but he was not. The board approved both items with the necessary change to the minutes.
Citizen Sandra Ferguson addressed council with a concern regarding one acre of property she sold to the city around 2011 or 2012 on Posey Road. She advised council that she received a call from Jimmy Lockerman who informed her an exhibit attached to that sale made it look as though the city had purchased all 45 acres of her land. She stated the only person she knew was on the board at that time was Meredith Lester who she said confirmed the purchase of one acre. Mayor Mixon said the matter would be turned over to the city clerk for correction.
There were no reports from the Dooly County Sheriff’s Department or the Fire Department. Public Works Director Teriano Felder reported there had been some issues at the prison with the tank running over and it affected the water pressure of citizens. He advised that the problem was handled and they had not received any more complaint from customers. He informed council they are working with Georgia Power to try and replace lights around the city with LED lights. He said they could be placed on the list to see if there would be a cost or if it would be free. He said the spray field is being mowed and looking good.
The main item under new business was issues regarding the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). This has been an ongoing issue, event with past administration. At a previous meeting there was some question regarding bills. Mayor Mixon said after reviewing guidelines it was brought to his attention the DDA was not properly structured as to who sits on that board.
“If it is an entity of the city and it is not right it becomes our obligation to check it,” he said.
Councilwoman Meredith Lester informed Mixon she had a problem with the matter not being brought before the council before any action was taken.
“I did not think that I had to have permission,” said Mixon. “I am here for four years and we are gonna do what’s right. If it has been wrong in the past we’re gonna fix it.”
Councilman Chester Thomas agreed if it was done wrong it needed to be fixed and they should do what is necessary to get on track. Mixon made it clear he did not care who sat on the board as long as they met the qualifications.
Lester said as far as she is concerned it is a matter of fairness.
“You cannot speak for me,” she said directing her comment to Mixon. “You can’t make decisions on behalf of all of us.”
Mixon informed the board he was not going to take them down no illegal path but advised he would investigate something if he believed it was wrong but Lester persisted if there was an issue he should have come before the council first.
Bobby G. West, who is the chairman of the DDA, said that he inherited the problems with that board because there were issues before his appointment. Mixon said the guidelines for who can sit on the board have been in place since the DDA was founded. Part of the criteria is the appointee must be a businessman/woman, live within a mapped out area, and pay ad valorem tax.
Whittaker said the city’s money should not be used in a vendetta against the DDA.
“These bills, you need come bring things like this to us before you do anything,” said Whittaker. “I am not trying to go see the new district attorney. We need to be aware. We make decisions, you carry them out.”
Mixon said Whittaker’s words made him think they didn’t mind not being in compliance with guidelines, but Whittaker said he does not take anyone’s word as law.
“I ain’t trying to put no jewelry on my wrists,”said Whittaker.
Mixon asked the DDA to work with the Council and for the council to make good selections because he was not going to have a hand in making any appointments.
Mixon informed council members it is time to finalize the budget of the city. He advised the budget needed to be in and millage rate set by August 1. A budget work session was set for May 26 at 5:30 p.m.