Ranging from two new hires to the purchase of police cars and the old Kingston Elementary gymnasium, Mayor Dexter Jones and the city council covered a lot of ground.
A topic of much conversation was a first draft of the proposed 2014 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects. Totaling $1.8 million, the list includes projects in the areas of road work, recreation, capital improvements and public works.
"I look at this more as a road map, this first [draft] right here -- you want to just cover the basics," Jones said. "Hopefully, over the next week and over the next two weeks we can get together with the council to relay any wishes the citizens might have that could be covered under the SPLOST."
Starting off a long list of items up for vote next week were measures to increase security at the city shop and fuel depot. Differing opinions were voiced by the mayor and councilmen on how to best approach the situation, the severity of which was brought to light by CPA Lloyd Williamson in the 2010 audit presentation.
Both tactics were presented on the agenda as possible solutions. The first is a fuel management system fully integrable with the city computer system favored by councilmen Louise Howell and Ed Miklas at a cost of approximately $11,000. The second option, as suggested by Jones, was the purchase of an electronic gate costing between $5,000 and $6,000.
Also spurring debate was an agenda item for the purchase of the old Kingston Elementary gym, which was later clarified as authorization to continue negotiations with the Bartow County Board of Education for that purpose. Brought forth by Jones, the old gym would serve the city primarily as a means of recreation for youth with possible uses for community assemblies, plays and church functions.
Not only was the possible purchase price a point of hesitation for councilmen but also cost of maintenance, utilities, taxes and the need for supervision. No dollar amounts for any of these figures were known at Tuesday's work session.
Another sizable purchase was added to the agenda in the form of new police cars. Jones has asked for two new police cars to replace aging models in use. According to Jones, the city's current police cruisers are in desperate need of replacement as advised by the city's insurer.
"We're getting into some pretty serious auto conditions," Jones said. "In my opinion, we don't have any choice. If we're going to continue to have a police department, we're going to have to buy those cars."
Councilmen again disagreed with Jones on the timing of these purchases, preferring to repair existing vehicles or wait until next year when funds are freed up from the payments to Bartow County for city hall.
"I would hold off on purchasing the two vehicles until next year," Miklas said. "By that time we'll be close to paying off the mortgage on city hall and then as soon as we pay off the mortgage, we can use that payment toward the purchase of vehicles."
Two new hires will come up for vote next week; Jones personally suggested both hires with Sidney Solomon to serve as part-time treasurer and Bobby Wilkey as part-time maintenance worker. Jones heralded the need for increased manpower in maintenance and public works as well as the need for a city treasurer to fulfill charter stipulations.
Councilmen did not agree with the need for additional office personnel, nor did they feel that now was the time for increasing payroll. There was some interest, however, in added maintenance personnel if qualifications were presented, so as to reduce overtime currently being paid out.
As outlined in the June special called meeting, Jones feels a need for more public works employees to keep up with the demands of city maintenance, including mowing grass, cleaning storm debris, garbage pickup and water system maintenance. Again, he stressed this need and asked for additional help to be added in this area. Councilman Billy Sanders, however, raised concerns Tuesday over new hires when others were laid off last year.
"We got people laid off in them jobs and you're talking about hiring somebody else off the street -- that ain't even right," Sanders said. "We got two laid off from lack of work then you going to hire one that ain't even been here. How you going to do that?"
A third "hire" will be on the Monday, July 11, agenda for a reserve officer to aid in investigations and management of the evidence room. Suggested by Jones, Mike Powell is up for the position, described by the mayor as a "seasoned" veteran police officer with an "ideal" resume. As a reserve officer, Powell would work as needed on a volunteer basis. The only cost to the city would be for uniforms.
Also discussed Tuesday was the use of Georgia Department of Transportation grant money to be used for repaving 0.8 miles of Hardin Bridge Road from the Two Run Creek bridge to Kingston city limits. The grant would cover $25,000 of the project, approximately half of the estimated cost.
The Kingston City Council will see these items for vote at Monday's regular meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall.