Regular Meeting of the Mayor and City Council
City of Ball Ground, Georgia
Ball Ground City Hall ~ 5:00 P.M.
February 14, 2008
Item 1: Meeting Called to Order by Mayor Rick Roberts
Council Members Present: John Byrd, Ashley Holcomb, Frank Homiller & Lee Prettyman, Andrenia Stoner
Staff Present – Darrell Caudill, City Attorney; Dana Davis, Police Chief; Michael Chapman, Planner and Eric Wilmarth, City Manager
Item 2: Pledge of Allegiance led by Council Member Andrenia Stoner
Item 3: Public Comments – Recognition of Guest
Mayor Roberts welcomed the guests in attendance. Mayor Roberts recognized Mr. Phillip Thomason who had requested to speak to Mayor and Council. Mr. Thomason stated that the sidewalk on State Route 372 from downtown to his property in the vicinity of Cherokee Village Drive was dangerous and in a state of disrepair. He stated that when walking to town you could feel the tractor trailers as they brushed by. After several additional layers of pavement had been added to State Route 372 the sidewalk was nearly at the same level as the street. Additionally Mr. Thomason said that in many places dirt and debris was covering the sidewalk to where there was less than eight inches of sidewalk left to walk on. Mayor Roberts replied that the sidewalk certainly needed improvement, and very likely needed to be relocated further off the street. He directed the City Manager to have city crews clean off the sidewalk and to obtain estimates for preliminary engineering of a new sidewalk. Mayor Roberts thanked Mr. Thomason for his comments.
Item 4: Announcements/Informational Items/Project Updates reported by City Manager Eric Wilmarth
Meter Change Out Program: City Manager Wilmarth reported that conversion to radio read was 100% complete and all invoices have been paid out. The budget for this project was $190,500.00. Budget was exceeded by $1,750.00. However the project still has 61 meters remaining in inventory for a value of $8,296.00.
Streetscapes Project: City Manager Wilmarth informed Mayor and Council that the signed contract from the Georgia Department of Transportation was expected to arrive any day.
TE Grant: City Manager Wilmarth announced that the City of Ball Ground had been awarded a Transportation Enhancement Grant in the amount of $200,000 for sidewalk construction along Valley Street and Old Dawsonville Road.
Valley Street Project: City Manager Wilmarth stated that the bid opening for the Valley Street project had been conducted earlier in the day and that it appeared the low bidder would be Weaver Grading and Hauling from Holly Springs, Georgia. He further stated that the bid packets had been sent to the City Engineer for this project for the official bid tabulation which would take several days.
Back Up Power for the Well House: A notice to proceed to procure a generator and necessary materials was issued following the last council meeting on January 11, 2008. The backlog time on shipping for propane generators is 6-8 weeks. Once the generator is shipped this project will begin.
Item 5: Approval of Minutes of the December 13, 2007 Regular Scheduled Meeting
Council Member Holcomb put forth a motion, seconded by Council Member Prettyman to approve the minutes of the January 31, 2008 work session.
Motion Approved 5 Yeas 0 Nays
Council Member Holcomb put forth a motion, seconded by Council Member Byrd to approve the minutes of the January 10, 2008 regular scheduled Meeting of Council. Motion Approved. 4 Yeas, 0 Nays, 1 Abstention from Council Member Stoner who was not present at the January 10, 2008 meeting.
Item 6: Old Business
a) Consider 2nd Reading of Amendment to City of Ball Ground Comprehensive Development Code Division 104.13 Titled The Valley Overlay District
Mayor Roberts informed council that no comments had been received and no changes had been made since the first reading of this proposed change. Council Member Byrd put forth a motion, seconded by Council Member Prettyman to approve the second reading of this change to the development code. Motion Approved 5 Yeas, 0 Nays
b) Consider 2nd Reading of Application for Retail Sales of Alcoholic Beverages – Amerioil Inc. DBA Chevron Ball Ground, Zayray Dutta, Applicant
City Manager Wilmarth informed Mayor and Council that the background check on Zayray Dutta had not yet been received back by the City. Council Member Stoner put forth a motion seconded by Council Member Byrd to approve the second reading of the application and authorize the issuance of the requested license upon validation of a favorable background investigation by the Chief of Police.
Motion Approved 5 Yeas, 0 Nays.
c) Consider 2nd Reading of Floodplain Management Ordinance
Mayor Roberts informed Council that no comments or changes to this proposed ordinance had been received since the first reading. A motion was put forth by Council Member Holcomb, seconded by Council Member Stoner to approve the 2nd Reading and adoption of this ordinance. Motion approved. 5 Yeas, 0 Nays.
Item 7: New Business
a) Consider 1st Reading of Annexation Petition 2008-A01 Barbara Edwards, Applicant
Mayor Roberts stated that this property was located on the south west corner of the intersection of Howell Bridge Road and Ball Ground Highway. Mayor Roberts informed council that the proper notification had been made to the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners. A motion was put forth by Council Member Holcomb and seconded by Council Member Prettyman to approve the first reading of this annexation petition. Motion approved. 5 Yeas, 0 Nays.
b) Consider 1st Reading of Annexation Petition 2008-A02 Lanier Ingram
Mayor Roberts stated this property was located on the lot below Ingram Truck Body and behind Zack’s Truck Accessories. Mayor Roberts asked City Manager Wilmarth what size tract of land was being annexed. City Manager Wilmarth replied that the tract size was 1.44 acres and contained mini storage warehouses. He further stated that no zoning action was being requested at this time. A motion was put forth by Council Member Holcomb and seconded by Council Member Homiller to approve the first reading of this annexation petition. Motion approved. 5 Yeas, 0 Nays.
c) Consider Application for Zoning Change – Real Property Investments, LLC,
AG to LI
Mayor Roberts informed Council that this application for zoning change had been heard by the Cherokee County Municipal Planning Commission and came to council with a unanimous recommendation for approval to change the zoning from AG to LI. A motion was put forth by Council Member Byrd and seconded by Council Member Holcomb to approve the zoning change from AG to LI. Motion approved. 5 Yeas, 0 Nays.
d) Valley Street Bid Opening
Mayor Roberts asked City Manager Wilmarth if this item needed to be tabled until the bid tabulation had been completed by Rindt McDuff and Associates. City Manager Wilmarth confirmed that the official bid award could not yet be made. A motion was put forth by Council Member Holcomb and seconded by Council Member Byrd to table the Valley Street Bid Award until the next advertised meeting of Mayor and Council. Motion approved. 5 Yeas, 0 Nays.
Item 8: Financial Report for Period Ended 12/31/2007 – Finance Director
Mayor Roberts announced that the City was currently without a Finance Director as former director Randy Westbrook had left for a very positive career move. Mayor Roberts stated that Mr. Westbrook would be missed at the City and asked City Manager Wilmarth to provide the finance report. City Manager Wilmarth briefed Mayor and Council that the City had an ending cash balance on January 31, 2008 of $706,995.00. He further stated that General Fund revenues for the month were $31,328 while expenses were $42,066. City Manager Wilmarth informed Council that the monthly SPLOST receipts were $26,413 for January 2008, down $4,000 from the preceding month. Additionally, water revenues were $47,273 while expenses were $54,401. Mayor Roberts asked the City Manager to include information on the City debt in future reports.
Item 9: City Manager Comments
Mayor Roberts asked the City Manager to report concerning the activities of the City. City Manager Wilmarth briefed Mayor and Council as follows:
WATER AND SEWER:
Our total well production in January 2008 was 3,835,850 gallons for an average of 123,737 per day. Our loss rate for the month was 27%. Several severe leaks in the system contributed to this high production and loss rate. None the less, total production was 750,000 gallons less than in January 2007. Although this was a 16% reduction for the MONTH we missed our 10% reduction goal for the 4 month winter use.
Staff continues to work between the developer and the engineer on the design of a new lift station at the Ball Ground Business Park. There are some real challenges on this project due to the elevation changes.
We have been engaged in a search for a new Finance Director.
City Adm. Wilmarth has applied for the grants to fund the following project:
$100,000 for leak detection and line repair
$50,000 for water line replacement
$150,000 for a surface water assessment on Long Swamp Creek
$30,000 for sidewalks
$30,000 for sidewalks and parking expansion at Lions Field
We have approximately $50,000 remaining in outstanding property taxes. The overwhelming majority of these dollars are from builders and developers. Delinquent notices were sent out February 14, 2008.
Mayor Roberts, Council Member Prettyman and his wife Judy and I accompanied 65 5th graders from Ball Ground Elementary School on what has become an annul field trip to the Capital sponsored by the City. Our students received a tour of the capital, visited with Representative Calvin Hill, and had their picture taken with Governor Purdue. We treated the kids to lunch at the Varsity. This group was extremely well behaved and it was a pleasure to accompany them.
Mayor Roberts and I attended a Parks and Recreation Summit with Cherokee County. It appears this will become a quarterly event that will allow us to share ideas and pool our resources.
The goals on our basketball court have been adjusted – and are now at the regulation 10 foot – they have also been equipped with new rims and nets.
Work has been taking place inside the community building with the change out of all commodes to low flow. The lighting issues have been repaired and gutters added to the building. We will begin efforts soon on the front of the building to dress it up some.
Our PD has an ongoing fraud investigation where an elderly victim had funds transferred from several of her banking accounts to an unidentified recipient account in Florida.
Officer Jody Carver began his career with the department this month. We are pleased to have him on board. He will be riding with Training Officer Reeves for the next three months as part of the City’s intensive review and training program.
Item 10: Mayor Roberts & City Council Comments
Mayor Roberts and City Attorney Caudill led a lengthy discussion on two bills currently being considered in the State Legislature. The first bill authored by Representative Sean Jerguson and submitted on February 9th, 2008 calls to enact local legislation to implement increases in the homestead exemption equal to the inflationary increase in property re-assessments each year. Mayor Roberts explained that this legislation could create a situation where identical homes in the same neighborhood could see a huge difference in the amount of tax each homeowner pays; based on the length of time each resident has lived in their house. In case you’re planning to sell house fast without any hassle and at a fair price, contact 704-200-2298 or visit charlottehomecashbuyer.com. Mayor Roberts stated this could lead to a tax code that was not uniform in its application on like properties. Mayor Roberts further informed Council that from documents received from the Legislative Counsel it is very possible that this type of tax structure could be in violation of the State Constitution. Mayor Roberts further explained that additional legislation, co authored by Senator Chip Rogers of Cherokee County had already passed the State Senate. This legislation would place a 2% annual cap on the reassessment of residential property and a 3% cap on the reassessment of commercial properties. Council Members discussed both pieces of legislation and determined that the legislature was clearly infringing upon issues of home rule and the ability of the local government to govern itself. A motion was put forth by Council Member Stoner and seconded by Council Member Prettyman to adopt a resolution conveying the position of the City Council to the Cherokee Delegation stating “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THIS 14TH DAY OF FEBRURAY 2008 AT A DULY CALLED AND HELD CITY COUNCIL MEETING THAT THE BALL GROUND CITY COUNCIL IS IN FAVOR OF HOME RULE AND LOCAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND AS SUCH CANNOT SUPPORT LOCAL LEGISLATION WHICH WOULD DEPRIVE THE BALL GROUND CITY COUNCIL OF ITS CONSTITUTIONALLY MANDATED ROLE AND ARBITRARILY FREEZE PROPERTY ASSESSMENT IN AN INEQUITABLE MANNER.” Motion approved 5 Yeas 0 Nays
Item 11: Adjourn
There being no further business for Council Consideration a motion was duly made and second to adjourn the meeting.
The minutes of this February 14, 2008 Meeting of Council approved this 13th Day of March, 2008.
Mayor A. R. Roberts, III Council Member Frank Homiller
Council Member John Byrd Council Member Ashley Holcomb
Council Member Lee Prettyman Council Member Andrenia Stoner
City Clerk Karen L. Jordan