City Commission Meeting July 5th 2023

Published 12:24 pm Thursday, July 6, 2023

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The Cordele City Commission met on Wednesday July 5, 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 a public hearing in regards to Article II. definitions and interpretations; Article VI. Use provisions by district; section 625.3 conditional uses. Kayla Marie Smith. This public hearing did not have any discussion and was closed. The next public hearing was regarding the proposed Fiscal Year Budget 2023-2024. The Governing body was presented with a proposed budget for FY 2023-2024. Notice of a public hearing was advertised in the legal organ for the City on June 21, 2023 and June 28, 2023. A copy of the budget was placed in the City Clerk’s for public inspection. This public hearing is to receive comments on the proposed FY 2023-2024 budget. There was one citizen in the courtroom that asked about this budget and how it will impact the west side of Cordele. It was brought to everyone’s attention that there are funds that have been allocated to the improvement of sidewalks and roads on the west side. Public works has plans to pave streets based on a priority list says City Manager, Angela Redding. She also mentioned that there is SPLOST that covers improvements on Joe Wright Drive, with the budget specifically the department submit their request for each line item and then from there if there are streets that need to be paved or other works. More information of the exact areas that will receive this is to come. The citizen also asked if ward 1 had made any special requests and there was not. Chairman Deriso spoke in regards to the west side, saying that, the governing body has a big say to what can be done with the budget besides what Federal Law states needs to be done. He mentions that it is not just department headed that can bring things up, cause at the end of the day the governing body is the one to approve the budget. Deriso also went into saying that, “As I say all the time the reason the west side looks the way it looks is because they have done a disinvestment.” He also goes as far to mention that, “ You can tell people values and priorities by where they put there money, and this body has decided to not put more investment into the west side to build it up. So, its upon us as well, it does;t just run up from the department heads. So, moving forward we will see.” The closing of the public hearing was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously. We then heard from the department heads Finance Directors report was given by Angela Redding who said that there was Over $225,000 in local special tax collected, Over $211,000 in special purpose local sales tax (SPLOST) collected and over $29,000 in T-SPLOST collected. That is a total of over $466,000 collected.We then heard from Cordele Fire Chief, Todd Alligood, he reported that there was 78 calls to service in the month of June, with good news that there was no structure fires. The Department also passed a few of their annual tests and inspections. They have a new hire starting on July 11th, making them fully staffed. They also are planning a joint mass casualty training that will happen along side Crisp County Sheriff’s Office, Cordele Police Department and other departments. We then heard from Housing and Urban Development director, she updated that the Cordele Historic Committee met on June 12th for a call meeting in regards to a request to fix a historic home that has fire damage. After the committee discussed it, they unanimously approved the repairs. In regards to economic revival loans there are currently 5 loans, as well as 2 homes have been completed. She also mentioned EJB Youth Outreach program that have impacted 23 families in the community.Following we heard from Chief Codes Official, the only big new commercial job us that Griffin Grading & Concrete are building a new warehouse on their property. The code department has completed all of their inspections on the new Care Connect Urgent Care building as well as the new electric vehicle charging station at Pilot. The charging station should be up and running soon. We then heard from the Municipal Court, there was a total 190 cases, 21 criminal, 161 traffic. There were 9 bench warrants, 36 license suspensions and, a total of over $42,000 from cash funds, bonds, cash fund from probation, pre-trial and restitution. They had one person incarcerated for 2 days. Cordele Police Chief, Jalon Heard gave his report, calls for service from May 31 through June 27, Part 1 crimes a total of 33 incidents reports. There was 1 homicide in which they had one arrest. There were no rape or armed robbery reports. There was three motor vehicle thefts in which all three were recovered and two juveniles were arrested. There was a total of 18 larceny (thefts), three entering autos and 11 shoplifting, with a total of five arrests and four other thefts. As well as, two residential burglaries. Part 2 crimes there was a total of 61 incidents reported. Incidents reported 145, Community contacts 72, Citations issued 44, Warnings issued 24, Total calls for service from dispatch 1.123. In department news, on June 12th Animal Control Officer Brandi Akin was promoted to the Animal Shelter Manager. On June 23rd Ptl Kenan Raines and Ptl Kenstan Hemphill graduated the South Georgia Police Academy. The department has also recently hired two applicants, Jason Dukes and Jalen Johnson as patrol officers. They will be starting the South Georgia Police Academy on July 5th. On June 28th the department was invited to the Connect Camp at the old middle school. They really enjoyed the time we spent interacting with the children of the community. Lastly, the Police and Fire Departments are currently making plans for a 2nd  Annual Cordele Summerfest. This event will be held on August 26th 10am-2pm at the Community Clubhouse. Lastly, the Public Works Director said that there are currently bids going on for solid waste disposal, all bids are due at the end of July. A new tractor is needed due to an engine failure. UC&T Director said that due to the rain they had extra flow to treat, they treated a total of almost 99 million gallons which is almost twice they should, year to date they have treated 660 million gallon. They also received a grant for 10 million that will be used for sewer rehab, with a lot of it being on the west side. They also got their 11th sample back and they were both non-detected which means they need to go one more that is non-detected to stop needing to test. They have received the results from the toxicity report yet.

Agenda item number one was to consider and approve agreement with Albany State University for use of Campus Facilities for FY 2023-2024. This facility will be used for department head meetings. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number two was to consider and approve alcohol license renewal. No exceptions noted. Dollar General – store #2386, 402 S. 7th Street, Cordele, GA, 31015, beer and wine consumed off premises. Chief Jalon Heard approved the license on June 29, 2023. That was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number three was to consider and approve the second reading of an ordinance designating certain public streets in the City of Cordele for the combined use of motorized carts and regular vehicular traffic; and for other purposes. This agenda item was discussed and the governing body decided to push it forward to the next agenda due to lack of information. They want to get clarification on what roads golf carts will be able to drive on before passing this. They did mention that it will be roads that have a speed limit of no more than 35 mph and ATV will be prohibited. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number four was to consider and approve the second reading of an ordinance amending article XII of chapter 2 of the City Code of the City of Cordele; Removing all references to ethics tribunal and replacing them with hearing officer; repealing all ordinances in conflict herewith; and for other purposes. Commissioner Isaac Owens asked how will they would go about selecting a hearing officer and it was clarified by City Manager Angela Redding and City Attourny, Tommy Coleman that it will be self appointed. Chairman Deriso said that, “For the record verbatim in the minutes. This whole thing occurred previous in the City Charter the Chairman got to make the appointments. The governing body was in error with putting two people on the ethics committee that resided outside of the city, making them not qualified to be on the ethics committee. Once I highlighted this, the governing body decided to go with a whole other process and actually paying a lawyer to come in and do what we already had a process further removing the chairman’s authority to have two people sit on the ethics committee like every other chairman before myself. So this whole process is another play of politics, instead of moving forward in progress and the original purpose that we should move in. So, I don’t get a vote bur for the record I say this whole process is convoluted by political play. It continues to show that this governing body has no respect for the vote that the majority of the people of the City of Cordele voted for.” Afterwards there were some disagreements between Chairman Deriso and Commissioner Reeves. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number five was to consider and approve the second reading of an ordinance establishing procedures for the development of an agenda; repealing all ordinances in conflict herewith; and for other purposes. Commissioner Isaac Owens had some questions in regards to if they decided on the number of days that the agenda needs to be approved prior to the meeting and City Manager confirmed that they decided on 4 days. Owens also has questions in regards to section 3 when it talks about a matter being voted on for the agenda and if it doesn’t get voted in that it gets motioned for reconsideration. There was also some confusion on the term tabling being used and what this means exactly. It was clarified by Tommy Coleman that the wording is not correct for this type of situation and can be changed to be suit the government. Isaac asked if this wording was standard but Coleman clarified that it was completely the City of Cordele’s policy. Coleman agreed that the wording of tabling should be taken out. There was further discussion on voting on matters that go into the agenda. Chairman Deriso asked in regards to section 3 number 2, “ If the matter not voted on or tabled it shall not be placed on the agenda absent from the vote of four commissioners.” Deriso continued, “Process wise how are four commissioners going to vote on a matter if it is not during a meeting?” Tommy Coleman said that it will probably be done by affidavit, or the City Manager could collect four emails from the commissioners. Deriso spoke up saying, “Let me put this in better perspective of what the city attorney is saying. So, again this is another item, which this governing body is choosing to take any power or privilege that the chairman has. As you all know by the charter the chairman does not have the ability to make a motion but what the chairman can do is, the chairman can put things on the agenda. Before I became chairman John Wiggins approved the whole agenda. Even when we first started they were sending the agenda to be to approve and I said whatever anyone wants to put on because the bedrock of democracy us deliberation. I don’t have to agree with you but we are to talk and discuss it for the public because we are elected officials, elected by the public. So the whole thing and the whole intent of this is some people making calls to other people saying, well I got a way to change or fix that. The chairman put things on the agenda all the time and what we’ll do, he can’t continue to put the same thing on the agenda if it doesn’t pass because we don’t want him to do that, we don’t want him bringing up things that have not been done. So, this governing body got with probably City Manager and city attorney, I don’t know who specifically and tried to fix that issue because another thing they don’t want to do is for the public to aware of the things that are not being passed and are not doing. The last and other thing I will add as well to the whole thing it is not standard practice in cities to have a city manager approve what an elected official want to put on the agenda. I talked to several cities about this, now the city manager approved what the department heads put on the agenda but not the elected official and that is so far out of practice.” Deriso continued to speak in regards to other officials in the city, specifically in the Cordele Police Department, getting records on his family. Deriso, took this agenda item and made it very personal.

Agenda item number six was to consider and approve the first reading of an ordinance amending the zoning code of the City of Cordele to provide for the principal building main door entryway to face a public street; to provide that the chassis of a manufactured home be parallel to a city street; repealing all ordinances in conflict herewith; and for other purposes. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously. There was mention that this is just the first reading and that the seconding reading there will also be a public hearing.

Agenda item number seven was to consider and approve the request from Kayla Marie Smith for a variance to locate a new single-wide manufactured home at block 105, lots 6 and 7, 510 East 5th avenue, City of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia. The zoning classification of this property is (R-4), multi-family residential district. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number eight was to consider and approve a resolution providing for the adoption of a budget for fiscal year 2023-2024. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously. Dersio had comments on this item, “Only thing I will add for the record in minutes verbatim is that again this budget is very disappointing of all the departments, community development had been cut which shows our values and what we are planning on doing. The community development was the only department that received a decrease and I understand that part of that was a moving of a position but if we want to see our city and our community develop, the first thing we do not want to do is make a disinvestment in community development. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number nine was to consider and approve a resolution to authorize and direct an officer of the City to execute one or more lease supplement for a lease or leases under the GMA direct leasing program; to designate such leases as qualified ax-exempt obligations; to provide an effective date; and for other purposes. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number ten was to consider and approve the fire apparatus contract agreement with W.S, Darley & Co. for the purchase of a ladder truck. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number eleven was to consider and approve the award od the Cordele Gateway Project 1-75 interchanges, exit 99 and 101 landscape maintenance project to Southern Landscape Solutions. This item was properly moved, seconded, and approved unanimously.

Agenda item number twelve was to discuss the relocating of the Confederate monument. There were questions in regards to this; where would it be moved to? How much would it cost to move it? The governing body also became aware that if they were to move it, anyone that lives in the city could sue the City of Cordele.

Agenda item number thirteen was to discuss to move the City to a four (4) day work week.

Agenda item number fourteen was to discuss the acquisition of A.S. Clarke property for the city to generate revenue through the spaces of the auditorium, gymnasium, and cafeteria as rental money and the 12+ acres of land for future housing developments with CBDG and other funds.

Agenda item number fifteen was to discuss a mayor form of government. No motion was made. Chairman Deriso spoke on the matter saying, “

Agenda item number sixteen was to discuss a “Equity in Lending” ordinance. Commissioner Isaac Owen motioned but there was no second.

Agenda item number seventeen was to discuss the hiring of a Small Business Development Manager. Commissioner Isaac Owen motioned but there was no second.

Agenda item number eighteen was to discuss the placement of Community Development Manager under Community Development Dept. No motion was made.

Agenda item number nineteen was to discuss the relocation of William Parks fund to funding playgrounds, outdoor shaking rink, and a food truck park on the Westside near 13th Street and 24th Ave. (by old Nance store)

We then heard from City Manager Angela Redding, who gave us updates on what has been going on in the City. Herself and a few of the commissioners went to Savannah, GA for the GMA convetion where Royce Reeves served as the flag bearer and devoted delegate, the city was awarded the Civility Award, and Angela Redding, Vest Beal-Shepard and Wesley Rainey received a training award.

The meeting ended with frustration as disagreements ensued between Angela Redding and Chairman Deriso. To get the full story check out the video on our Facebook page.