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Council meets without proper notification

The Hazlehurst City Council was forced to rescind action taken last Thursday at a called meeting that was not announced as required by law. Or perhaps not.
Council members met Thursday afternoon but failed to send notice of the meeting to the local newspaper as required by the Georgia Open Meetings Law. Also not notified were Ledger writer Mary Ann Anderson and local activist Rhonda Walsh, both of whom have requested to be notified in advance of all city council meetings, and who are regular meeting attendees.
Monday morning, immediately after learning of Thursday’s meeting, this writer contacted city hall to inform the city that any action taken at Thursday’s meeting was improper and would not be binding because of the lack of proper notice. City Clerk Vernice Lopez told this writer the council did not taken any action at the Thursday meeting.
At a work session Monday night, City Attorney Natasha Bennett informed the council that, due to the inadvertent failure to notify the proper parties, including the newspaper, of the Thursday meeting, she had drawn up a resolution that included rescinding action at a Nov. 15 meeting to authorize the purchase of Dr. Sidney Johnson’s building next to the City Police Station and convey the property to the Hazlehurst Downtown Development Authority, and reauthorizing that purchase and transfer. She added that the resolution also corrected the council’s error at Thursday’s meeting authorizing the cashing out of a $200,000 water and sewer department CD to pay for the building.
But a review of a video tape, provided to the Ledger by Ms. Lopez, of the Thursday, Dec. 13 meeting reveals that no such decision was made to cash out the CD. Rather, the motion was to direct the city attorney to draw up a resolution to that effect for approval at Monday’s work session.
In Monday’s work session, Council Member Eric Griffin asked if the CD had already been cashed out to which Mayor Bayne Stone replied that it had already been cashed out and the money was in the bank.
Griffin also asked for assurance that the money in the CD was not restricted and the Mayor assured him it was not.

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