The regular meeting of the Pooler City Council was held on August 18, 2003. Mayor Buddy Carter called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. Present were Councilmen Jack Brewton, Robert Bryan, Travis Cowart, Jr., Wayne Seay, Stevie Wall and Councilwoman Billie Tyler. City Manager Dennis Baxter and City Attorney Steve Scheer were also present.
The invocation was given by Mayor Carter and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Councilman Cowart.
The minutes of the previous meeting were approved as printed upon a motion by Councilman Cowart, seconded by Councilman Bryan, with no opposition. The minutes of the called meeting on August 8th were approved as printed upon a motion by Councilman Bryan, seconded by Councilman Seay, with no opposition.
Report from the Standing Committees:
Councilman Bryan presented bills for payment and made a motion to pay, subject to funds. Motion was seconded by Councilman Brewton and passed without opposition.
Councilman Wall reported on the community service program and gave the police and fire reports. Chief Chan reported on the recent “mock tornado” disaster conducted by the fire department at the middle school, commending the police and fire departments and the citizens that participated.
Councilman Cowart reported that the street and drainage departments have performed routine maintenance and presented a letter commending the street department for removing graffiti from Pooler School in a timely fashion.
Councilman Brewton reported that the water and sewer departments have performed routine maintenance.
Councilman Seay reported that football and cheerleading practice is ongoing and that a dance will be held on September 5th at the gym.
Councilman Seay reported that the Personnel Committee is working on the employee handbook.
Councilwoman Tyler reported that 16 new single family residential permits have been issued this month, totaling 215 for the year and stated that members of the Planning & Zoning Board recently attended a workshop. Jackie Carver, Zoning Administrator, gave a brief overview of the workshop, stating that is was very informative.
Mayor Carter presented Ms. Jessica Taylor, recipient of the Georgia Association of Zoning Administrators’ scholarship, congratulating her on this accomplishment.
Under OLD BUSINESS the following was discussed:
1. Discussion concerning update to Charter
Councilman Seay stated that several months ago a draft of a new Charter was presented to Council and that the next step is to vote on this to send it to the State Legislature. Mayor Carter asked Mr. Scheer if the problems he had with the current Charter have been corrected. Mr. Scheer stated that the sections that needed to be corrected in the current Charter have been done legally and approved by the Legislature. Mayor Carter asked if there were any more problems with the current Charter. Mr. Scheer stated that from a legal standpoint the problem has been corrected, but there are problems with the Charter being antiquated. Councilman Wall asked Mr. Scheer if the proposed Charter changes the corrections recently made. Mr. Scheer stated that it changes the form of government to a city manager type which he believes that in 1984, the city council amended the Code of Ordinances to provide for this, which was in direct conflict with the Charter. Councilman Wall questioned if this proposed Charter would change the type of government, which Mr. Scheer confirmed and stated that changes could still be made to the draft. Councilman Wall stated that he still has problems with a few items and requested that a workshop be held to resolve them. Councilman Cowart stated that everyone was asked for their input and given ample opportunity to submit their comments. Mayor Carter questioned if it was the will of Council to handle the proposed update of the Charter as it is printed, to which Councilman Cowart replied that the only way to find out was to vote on it. Mayor Carter stated that this item was for discussion only, that it could be added as an action item, but that he would first like to have a planning session to address several issues. Councilman Cowart expressed concern that everyone that runs for office in the next election needs to know what the Charter contains so they can be prepared when they take office in January. Councilman Seay stated that regardless of what this Council approves, the Charter can be changed again. Councilwoman Tyler stated that the Charter has been worked on since last year and that if needed, the Council should go through it again. Councilman Cowart made a motion, seconded by Councilman Bryan, to add Item #9 under New Business to approve a resolution for the new Charter.
Councilman Wall asked once again for a workshop to be held. Mayor Carter stated for the record that he is opposed to any change in the form of government that the city has at this time. Motion passed without opposition.
Under NEW BUSINESS the following was discussed:
1. Reconsideration of approval of temporary/special event permit for Ann Russell to dispense alcoholic beverages on September 19-20, 2003 at Comfort Inn
Councilman Brewton stepped down from his council seat. Councilman Cowart stated that when this was discussed at the last meeting, he was mistaken in believing that this license would be for the Comfort Inn itself, which has experienced problems with the sale of alcoholic beverages in the past. Therefore, Councilman Cowart made a motion to approve this temporary/special event permit for Ann Russell to dispense alcoholic beverages on September 19-20th at the Comfort Inn. Motion was seconded by Councilman Wall and passed without opposition.
Councilman Brewton returned to his council seat.
2. Requested 10' front yard setback variance on Parcel E (proposed subdivision off Governor Treutlen Rd.)
A public hearing was held prior wherein no opposition was presented. Councilwoman Tyler presented this request from Glen Sawyer and made a motion, based on Planning & Zoning and staff recommendation, to approve, subject to the variance being for the canopy only. Motion was seconded by Councilman Brewton and passed without opposition.
3. Approval of alcoholic beverage license for Hoang V. Le at Nagano’s Japanese Restaurant
Councilman Brewton stepped down from his council seat. Mr. Baxter presented this application for an alcoholic beverage license for Hoang V. Le at the new Nagano’s Japanese Restaurant, stating that Chief Chan has recommended approval. Councilman Wall made a motion, seconded by Councilman Bryan, to approve. Motion passed without opposition.
Councilman Brewton returned to his council seat.
4. Discussion concerning request from the Pooler Crossroads Chamber of Commerce for funding the Flying Pig Festival
Councilwoman Tyler stated that she has contacted the Pooler Crossroads Chamber of Commerce to see what it would cost to sponsor this festival and presented this request for the city to fund this year’s Flying Pig Festival. Further, that there are several other cities that sponsor festivals, which help promote their cities. Mr. Scheer stated that there is no legal way to fund this project, except through the hotel/motel taxes, which would have to be approved during the budgetary process. Further, that this cannot be done this year, based on the hotel/motel taxes already being under contract with the other chamber. Councilman Cowart stated that a contract for disbursement has to be in place for the sole purpose of the Festival. Mr. Scheer stated that funding could be provided for in next year’s budget, if the Council so desires. Steve Hartley of The Spirit Newspaper asked if the Pooler Area Chamber of Commerce would be willing to co-sponsor the festival. Mayor Carter stated that this was an option to consider.
5. Request from Wachovia Bank regarding Tri-Party Collateral Agreement
Mayor Carter stepped down from his seat due to a conflict of interest. Mayor Pro tem Cowart presided over the meeting for this item. Mr. Scheer presented this request from Wachovia Bank, N.A. to transfer the city’s securities to a third party custodian, stating that since Wachovia and First Union have merged, Wachovia Bank, N.A. is requesting to transfer securities to a third party custodian, The Bank of New York. Mr. Scheer stated that he felt that the city’s public funds should be kept in the State Georgia, but that the city needed to make sure all laws of the State are being met. After discussion, Councilman Bryan made a motion to authorize the city manager to determine which plan is best. Motion was seconded by Councilman Brewton. Ms. Linda Smith, Finance Officer, stated that the letter from Wachovia is misleading and that Wachovia/First Union is responsible for the city’s public funds at this time and in the past, and that all the banks the city has money in have to deal with a third party. When there are any amounts over $100,000, the banks take their securities and let a third party hold their securities to insure our money. Further, that in the past, not only did the city get the first $100,000 insured by FDIC, Wachovia/First Union was also letting FDIC be the third party holding entity to hold Wachovia’s securities and that what they are requesting is instead of letting FDIC hold the city’s money, they want to move their securities to The Bank of New York. But, that the city could request that its public funds be continued to be insured by the FDIC. Councilman Cowart stated that the motion was to authorize the city manager to look into this matter and to bring it back to Council with his recommendation. Mayor Pro tem Cowart called for the vote. Motion passed without opposition.
Mayor Carter returned to his seat and now presided over the meeting.
6. Approval of resolution regarding municipal election
Mr. Baxter presented this resolution regarding the Board of Elections of Chatham County running the city’s municipal election to be held on November 4th. Councilman Wall made a motion to approve. Motion was seconded by Councilman Cowart and passed without opposition.
7. First Reading on ordinance to amend Charter regarding mayor/council salaries
Mr. Baxter presented this ordinance to amend the city’s Charter to increase the mayor and council’s salaries, to become effective in 2004. The amendment will provide for the salary for mayor to increase from $300 per month to $600 per month and the salary for the council to increase from $150 per month to $300 per month. Mayor Carter stated for the record that he was opposed to any increase and that these offices should be volunteer. Councilman Wall made a motion to approve this ordinance on First Reading. Motion was seconded by Councilman Bryan and passed with Councilman Cowart and Councilman Seay opposing.
8. First Reading on ordinance to amend Charter regarding increase to municipal court fines
Mr. Baxter presented this ordinance to amend the city’s Charter to increase the municipal court fines to bring them up to what the State allows. After discussion, Councilman Wall made a motion to approve this ordinance on First Reading. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed without opposition.
9. Approval of resolution regarding new Charter
This item Councilwoman Tyler questioned Mr. Scheer as to who was given the power to hire and fire after the amendment was done earlier in the year that took this power away from the mayor. Mr. Scheer explained that the current Charter has been amended to provide that the mayor may, with the advice and consent of city council, appoint and remove all officers, department heads and employees of the city and that the council can delegate by ordinance at any time certain authority, whether it be the city manager’s or the mayor’s. Councilman Cowart stated that the new Charter would provide for the city manager to appoint, suspend or remove all city employees and administrative officers he appoints, except as otherwise provided by law, or personnel ordinances adopted. Mayor Carter presented Council with problems he has with the proposed Charter as follows: 1) changing the type of government, one that the city has had since 1976, stating that it has operated exceptionally well, noting the city’s success over the years; 2) Section 2.12 regarding vacancy of the mayor’s office, stating that the mayor should be elected by the people at the next scheduled election; 3) the new Charter provides that the city council shall elect the mayor pro tem, stating that traditionally the mayor pro tem has been appointed by the Council and has been the person who receives the highest number of votes; and 4) where references are made to City Council, it should read “Mayor and City Council”. Councilman Wall stated that he was in agreement with Mayor Carter on items 1, 2 and 4. Councilman Cowart stated that the current Charter does not say that the mayor pro tem is the person who receives the highest votes, but that tradition has been to appoint such person and that the new one does provide this. Mayor Carter asked Councilman Cowart to read the section. Councilman Seay stated that this was in one of the first drafts, but after suggestions from other people, it was removed. Councilwoman Tyler stated that Section 3.27 regarding the mayor’s veto powers is not in the current Charter, asking why it was needed. Councilman Seay stated that it is not a blanket veto and that other cities have provisions for this. Councilman Brewton stated that he disagrees with the number of votes (5) it takes to override the mayor’s veto, adding that it only takes four (4) to pass any ordinance. Councilwoman Tyler presented her opposition of the mayor having veto powers. Councilman Wall stated that the city’s form of government should not be changed. Councilman Brewton stated that certain facets of the Charter have been changed due to it being outdated. Mayor Carter added that the new Charter would take the power away from the people who elect a mayor and council, with them being the ones that govern the city by having the power being put into an appointed position, the city manager. Further, that it is erroneous by voting in favor for an increase in salaries tonight when this would decrease city council’s responsibilities. After further discussion, Councilman Cowart made a motion to approve the proposed Charter, with “mayor and city council” being added everywhere it states “city council” and deleting Section 3.27 regarding veto power of the mayor. City Clerk Maribeth Lindler informed Council that in Section 2.10 it states that the “city council” is composed of a mayor and six (6) councilmembers, therefore, everywhere it says “city council” it refers to the mayor also. Mayor Carter asked that the Charter be consistent in regards to this. Councilman Seay stated that he would like to have a document that would fit the 21st Century and that he was originally instructed to draft the Charter to incorporate the changes made since 1984 and to bring it to what is the mode for the State of Georgia. Councilman Brewton stated that the Council needed to go ahead and approve the Charter and that there is time between now and January 1st to sit down and make any changes. Steve Hartley of The Spirit Newspaper stated that it was obvious that a workshop needed to be scheduled to work out the details and asked Council to consider this. Councilman Cowart amended his original motion as follows: to approve the proposed Charter with the recommended changes made and the deletion of Section 3.27, and to hold a meeting to work out the details before January 1, 2004. Motion was seconded by Councilman Bryan and passed with Councilman Wall opposing and Councilman Seay abstaining.
Councilman Wall made a motion to adjourn to Executive Session at approximately 7:20 p.m. to discuss personnel matters. Motion was seconded by Councilman Seay and passed without opposition.
Mayor Carter called the meeting back to order at 8:15 p.m.
There being no further business to discuss, Councilman Wall made a motion to adjourn at approximately p.m. Motion was seconded by Councilman Cowart and passed without opposition.
A public hearing was held prior to the regular City Council meeting on August 18, 2003. Mayor Buddy Carter called the hearing to order at 5:45 p.m. Present were Councilmen Jack Brewton, Robert Bryan, Travis Cowart, Jr., Wayne Seay, Stevie Wall and Councilwoman Billie Tyler. City Manager Dennis Baxter and City Attorney Steve Scheer were also present.
The purpose of this public hearing was to discuss a requested 10' front yard setback variance on Parcel E of the proposed subdivision off Governor Treutlen Road. Mr. Paul Simontin of P. C. Simontin was present on behalf of the developer, Glen Sawyer. Councilman Wall reminded Council that Planning & Zoning has recommended that the variance be allowed for the canopy only, not the building and that this has been done before in similar circumstances. Mr. Baxter stated that the request is for a canopy variance, not the building itself. Councilwoman Tyler questioned Mr. Simontin in regards to this variance being only for Parcel E, not Parcel D, which was acknowledged, and asked him if he was aware of the Standards for a Variance. Mr. Simontin stated that this request was due to a hardship, that it was required to provide access to the rear of the building for maintenance and to keep the building from being pushed back closer to the residential area. Councilman Seay asked if Mr. Johnny Doonan’s concerns presented at the Planning & Zoning meeting have been satisfied. Councilwoman Tyler stated that Mr. Doonan requested a higher berm. Councilman Brewton stated that no matter how high you build the berm, there would not be a problem with the lights interfering with the residential area.
There being no further business to discuss, the hearing was adjourned at approximately 5:55 p.m.