Several topics were discussed at Thursday night’s City Council workshop.
Eighth Street Middle School teacher Gene Fandel and Denise Millette talked to the council about the condition of the sidewalks in the city.
Millette said since she moved back to Tifton after losing her vision, it has come to her attention how difficult it is to walk around the city.
“The condition of, and lack of, our sidewalks makes it nearly impossible to be as involved in community life as one would like, especially if one is visually impaired or confined to a wheelchair,” she told The Gazette.
She and Fandel brought to the attention of the council members three of many specific examples of situations that could prove to be safety issues for all citizens, such as the sidewalks on Love Avenue (near Eighth Street), 20th Street (west of U.S. Highway 41) and Fourth Street (between Tift and Love).
Millette told The Gazette that in some areas there are no sidewalks or the curb cut out is practically impossible for use by a citizen in a wheelchair.
“I believe that adding new, maintaining and updating older sidewalks is of vital importance to our community as a whole,” she stated.
She explained the following benefits of this endeavor:
- Financially - Families who can’t afford to buy or maintain a car must walk to work to sustain their family. Walking saves money on the ever-rising price of gas.
- Physically - Walking and running are great ways to get healthy.
- Economically - Local businesses will benefit from better accessibility to their stores by all citizens and visitors to the Tifton community.
City Manager Larry Riner said these safety issues will be addressed immediately.
Also, during the workshop, Lisa Friedman with the City of Tifton gave the council an update on offering a citizens' academy to locals in the community. She said it will be called the Charles Howell Academy for Public Services (C.H.A.P.S.) in honor of former Tifton City Manager Charles Howell.
Friedman stated that the purpose of the citizens' academy is to educate residents, while also creating buzz about the city. Residents will have the opportunity to learn a little more about their city by participating in the academy. She said residents will hear from community leaders about their roles in the city and will also tour some of the local facilities.
Upon graduating from the academy, residents will attend a council meeting to be recognized and then a reception will be given afterwards.
Friedman told council members that they’re expecting to have at least 10 or no more than 25 citizens once the academy starts (hopefully, November or January). The council will discuss this more.
The council heard from Chuck Hester, who gave a report on a bid for citywide pest control services. He explained that the proposal is to reduce the current expense of pest control by awarding contract to one company for pest control in all buildings. The project will be funded by each department’s building maintenance budget.
Hester said the request for proposal called for each company to provide routine pest control at 28 locations. They are currently paying multiple companies for these services at an overall expense of $7,236 per year. This only includes eight locations.
Of the nine vendors that submitted a proposal, the lowest bidder was Tifton Termite and Pest Services with a proposal in the amount of $550 per month, not to exceed $6,600 per year. Hester stated that staff recommends accepting this proposal.
In addition, Riner discussed the bid for the Tifton Multi-Phase Downtown Streetscape and Beautification-GDOT project. He recommended awarding the bid to Blount & Sons Concrete Finishing, Inc. in the amount of $1,320,927.62.
Other topics discussed at the workshop:
- Bert Crowe, director of the environmental management department, provided council members with information on Shapiro Planned Development Overlay and Garvey Planned Development Overlay. He explained that information was received from Shapiro Properties, LLC relating to a PDO approved in November 2008. The developer stated that their intent was to build the project according to the original PDO with one request for a minor modification, which would allow the properties to be sold to any eligible purchaser and not limit the purchases to 55-year-old or older buyers. A request was made by application by Garvey Construction for the development of a multifamily residential townhouse and flat apartment complex at 1609, 1621 North Central Avenue. The application was made as a PDO which would allow for some variation in the guideline for the current zoning without changing the zoning itself. According to Crowe, staff recommends that both PDOs be approved.
- An amendment to the taxi cab ordinance was discussed by City Attorney Rob Wilmot. A recent review of the current “vehicles for hire” ordinance only addresses the need for a permit number, display of license certificate, the need for a driver’s license and some other minor requirements. The proposed ordinance calls for the following requirements and provisions: the vehicle must be in good working condition, indemnification of the city, cleanliness of the vehicles, drivers have to be in good physical and mental health, required insurance coverage, qualifications of an applicant, suspension and revocation of licenses and permits, provides for fines and other relevant matters. Also, rates need to be available in the cab for customers.
- Riner discussed surplus property — two on West Golden Road and a vacant lot on South Central Avenue between 13th and 13 ½ Streets. Staff is requesting that the council authorize the city manager to sell these properties at fair market value. This will reduce the city’s liability and place the properties back on the tax digest.
- Also, Wilmot discussed additional homestead exemption for senior citizens. The council was provided with a resolution requesting local legislative delegation to introduce local legislation to call for a referendum to amend the City of Tifton charter to increase the homestead exemption for all home owners 65 years of age or older to $35,000, from city ad valorem taxation; to provide for said referendum to be held in connection with the regular city election to be held Nov. 5, 2013.
- The council was provided with information about the H.E.A.T. (Heating Energy Assistance Team) program, which was launched in 1983. According to Riner, last winter season, this program helped many families in Tifton to heat their homes. In the local community and the immediate surrounding communities, nearly 60 families were served with an average benefit of $347 through this program last year, he noted. The need in the local area is overwhelming. Donations can be made through customers’ utility bill, online at www.heatga.org or write a check to H.E.A.T. and send it to H.E.A.T., c/o Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., P.O. Box 930112, Atlanta, Ga. 31193. The Georgia Department of Human Services distributes H.E.A.T. funds through local community action agencies.
- During a special called meeting after the workshop, the council approved (two voted as abstained) to consider the ordinance providing for moratorium on placement of signage in or on areas of property that are not yet properly zoned.
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.
Several topics were discussed at Thursday night’s City Council workshop.
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