City Commission Meeting – May 16, 2023

Published 3:26 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2023

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The Cordele City Commission met on Tuesday May 16, 2023 at 9am at the Cordele City Hall Courtroom with Chairman Joshua Deriso, Commissioner Vest Beal Shepard, Commissioner Isaac H. Owens, Commissioner Royce Reeves, Sr., Commissioner Wesley Rainey and City attorney, Tommy Coleman in attendance. The meeting started with speaker appearances, first by Jeff Sinnott in regards to a stop work order that he has in regards to a temporary brick wall that he had put in place for his dogs on the front deck of the large home he has been building on 5th street since 2027. Mr. Sinnott was very discouraged in regards to this stop work order as he has spent many years working on this home and he has not been able to work on it for the last 7 months. Unfortunately this is not the first time a stop work order has been put in place. As per what Mr. Sinnott said that the previous stop work order that he had, he had got is passed and everything he was doing has been checked and approved regularly and by the historic preservation committee. This issue has not yet been resolved and was suggested by the Chair that it could be put forward by the Commission to readdress this in the future or Mr. Sinnott could take it to court. The second speaker was not there and meeting was moved on to presentations. The first presentation was done by Winston Denmark, an Attorney from Atlanta that had been contacted by City Manager Angela Redding in regards to reviewing the City Charter. Denmark came back with unbiased legal opinion in regards to the City Charter saying that, there is a lot of inconsistencies in terms of who is to be addressed in certain circumstances, whether it be the City Manager or Chairman. This situation caused some conflict between the Chairman, Commissioners and City Manager, in regards to the fact that not ALL of those on the City Commission board had officially agreed upon the fact that the City Manager was going to reach out to a lawyer regarding this matter, nor did they agree to use this specific lawyer to look over the City Charter, along with the topics in which the lawyer would be reviewing. This issue was quickly brought to attention by the Chairman Deriso, to the Commissioners where Vice Chairman Royce Reeves Sr. said that they had decided at their recent retreat that City Manager, Angela Redding would be the one to reach out to a lawyer. Commissioner Issac Owens mentioned that although maybe not all of the topics in the City Charter they had like to be addressed were addressed that there is a possibility in the future that they could still be looked at. The next presentation was done by Tim Powers from Planters First Bank and Monica Simmons from the Chamber in regards to implementing a PROPEL Program that is done by UGA and the USDA. There was some discussion in regarding what this program was about being a Rural Community Development Initiative and how it could help the community in terms of helping give the community a economic boost. This topic was briefly discussed by the Commissioners and later in the meeting was an agenda item to consider and approve the Assurance Agreement from the program which was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

We then heard from our Department Heads starting with the Finance Director, Rusty Bridgers with nothing to really update besides they are getting on track to finish the audit for 2022 tax year. We then heard from the Fire Chief Todd Alligood with goals and achievements of the Fire Department, first being to ensure that they are giving the best possible service to the community. They are working on completely the 2024 budget process as well as looking into filling their current positions (one Sergeant, three firefighter position). Being that he is new to this department he is wanting to go through what they have and put unused items into surplus to give more room for storage. Alligood is also working on building a standard operating guideline for the department. He also mentioned some personal goals being to meet people from 911, EMS, Sheriffs department, and police chief. As far as the accomplishments they did expand their EMS service, they have spoken to finance director in terms of the budget, they completed interviews and have had a suggestion in terms of the promotion of someone to Sergeant. They have also completed interviews and have 2 potential candidates to fill a couple of the other spots available. Twelve of the firefighters have signed up for classes with Georgia Public Safety Training Centre, they also attended a job fair at Crisp County High School. We then heard from Chief Codes Official, Jack Wood with updates that they are continuing to encourage people to rehabilitate their homes before they get to far gone, more specifically one that is vacant. Woods mentions that maintaining a home before it is too far-gone will help to save the owners time and money in the long run. He also mentioned that the Foam Works car wash is aimed to be completed by end of June beginning of July. We then heard from Police Chief, Jalon Heard with a brief update on what is going on in the department in regards to goals and accomplishments, one of the accomplishments being that they attended a job fair at the Crisp County High School where they met many potential applicants. They will also be having an officer appreciation meal in the training rooms at the police department on Wednesday May 17th starting at 5:00pm. Heard also attended Professional Law Enforcement Community Engagement training. Chairman Deriso asked what ideas he has that Heard would like to bring into action in the community. Heard said that the training was about engaging with the community, one thing he took away from it was doing a better job of promoting the events they have. He also mentioned that he needs more participation from city officials.

They also have three candidates in their hiring process with a few more critical stages to complete the process. Heard also thanked the Fire Department to their response to the serious accident calls, as well as their assistance the other day when there was a damaged power pole and line that came down. We then heard from Public Works Director, Steve with updates regarding the holding ponds and a few other things going on. One the agenda items that was addressed later on in the meeting was a Proclamation done by Commissioner Issac Owens in regards to Public works and making the week of May 21-27, 2023 National Public Works Week. Finally, we heard from UC&T director, Debbie with a few updates in regards to the waste water treatment plant came back non detected for hypochlorite cyanide and they are on the road to saving money from these tests. They are also working on some aerators from the ponds, one in which they will not be able to fix and will need to purchase some news ones. They also received their golden award that they won a few weeks ago.

Agenda Item number one was the Proclamation – National Public Works Weeks – May 21-27, 2023 (Mentioned above)

Agenda Item number two is to consider and approve the first reading of and ordinance: The City Commission of the City of Cordele hereby ordains that pursuant to the Charter of the City of Cordele, as amended, and the Georgia Elections Code, as amended through the regular 2023 session of the Georgia General Assembly, the General Election for City Commission Ward 1 and City Commission Ward 4, as provided by O.C.G.A, to fill terms expiring on December 31, 2023, shall be held under the following terms and conditions..

That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda Item number three was to consider and approve the Assurance Agreement for the PROPEL program (mentioned above). That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda Item number four is to consider and approve the 2023-2024 Classic Main Street MOU. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda Item number five is the Discussion of the Public Defender’s contract with City within the Municipal Court. This item was brought to our attention by Chairman Joshua Deriso, who claims that he had sat in on City Court recently and witnesses actions by the Public Defender that he does not agree with. These actions include asking those who come before the City Court what their relationships are with the people without an agree of questions. Deriso spoke with the Public Defender and asked him to not do this further, in which Deriso claims the Public Defender said he could do what he wants. Whether not these statements coming from Deriso are true is not determined. Dersio also mentions that there is a lack of diversity in the City Municipal Court. Deriso continued on with saying that as governing bodies that they should take more consideration when appointing position like the City Judge and who they appoint. Deriso also mentions that he was disgusted at how the Public Defender behaved as well as mentioned other points in regards to culture and diversity. Commissioner Issac Owens asked Deriso what the Public Defenders reasoning was for asking these questions and Deriso claims he did not give one besides wanting to get to know the people. During this time Commissioner Royce Reeves Sr., was saying point of order in which Chairman Deriso ignored due to Reeves not saying Chairman prior to asking point of order. Then City Attorney, Tommy Coleman tried to say something in which he was spoken over by Chairman Deriso, saying that Deriso did not ask for his opinion. No motion was made at this time.