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Pandemic Leads To Overdue Water Bills

Last week, the Hazlehurst City Council discussed at length the budget for the Water and Sewer Department, noting that the new one is $2,018,445 over last year’s $1,552,000. Deputy Clerk Lorrie Williams and Stone explained that part of the budget issue is overdue water bills stemming from the pandemic, which caused a drop in revenue. Stone then added that the City will have to either increase its water bills to make up for lost revenue, increase ad valorem taxes, or decrease expenses.
“Our wish list is greater than our revenue, and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Stone.
In other action, the council ….
…. okayed travel and expenses for Hazlehurst Police Department, with Randy Roberson to attend D.A.R.E. training June 14-18 in Lyons and for Chief Ken Williams and Captain James Mock to attend the annual conference of Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police July 18-21 in Savannah.
…. approved nominations for officers for District 9 of the Georgia Municipal Association.
…. after noting that a citizen had complained that Steve Faught, a city department head, had driven his work vehicle to an out-of-county restaurant, passed a motion to adhere to the personnel policies that prohibit employees from driving out of town unless it’s for official city business.
…. listened as City Attorney Ken W. Smith gave the first reading of two ordinances, the first an Ordinance for Event Permit for Authorized Catered Events with Licensed Off-Premises Alcohol Sales and the second the Ordinance Authorizing Event Permits for the Sale of Alcoholic Beverages by the Drink for Consumption Off the Licensed Premises by a Licensed Alcoholic Beverage Caterer and the Licensing of Alcoholic Beverage Caterers. The second reading of the ordinances is in June.
…. gave the official go-ahead for the Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Chamber of Commerce’s South Georgia Food and Wine Festival to be held downtown Sept. 24-25.
…. approved a resolution, per the USDA Rural Development Commission as grant administrator, naming Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission as the grant writer and Turnipseed Engineers as the engineering firm for a 2021 Community Development Block Grant for up to $750,000 from Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The grant is for funding streets and drainage improvements.
…. after extensive arguments and discussions in the work session, gave the okay in the regular session for a $15,000 contract for Hazlehurst-Jeff Davis County Fire-Rescue for fire hydrant maintenance. The council also authorized another contract for $13,500 for the Water and Sewer Department for watershed assessment monitoring.
…. agreed to advertise for bids and place top priority for paving portions of Rogers and Kelly streets and also Gill Street near McPherson Manufacturing, with funds coming from Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants.
…. voted to give every employee hired before March 1 of this year a net bonus of $1,500 from the American Rescue Plan Act, for a total of $95,831. The City is set to receive $1,330,423 from the plan.
…. approved April’s reports to council, water and sewer adjustments, and check register for bills already paid.
…. agreed to sign a contract for the City to build and improve sewer, water and storm drainage systems on Hinson Street to connect with its nearby alleyway.
…. voted to allow Broadcast South to operate an active radio studio in the old City-owned Chamber of Commerce building on Jarman Street in exchange for local programming valued at $1,000 a month. The contract will be renegotiated after one year, and additionally Broadcast South agreed to pay for maintenance and repairs in that portion of the building.
…. in Mayor and Councilmen’s Comments in the workshop, briefly discussed but made no formal motion to approve placing speed bumps in McEachin Trailer Park, even though McEachin has agreed to pay for that installation.

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