Last week's work session included accounts of vicious strays aggressively approaching residents, in some cases trapping them in their car or chasing others inside. Monday's regular meeting saw the failure of a motion to renew a contract with Bartow County Animal Control to provide services for the city.
Despite attendance at Monday's meeting by some of those raising the issue, the motion did not pass. With Councilman Billy Sanders voting against the motion and Councilman Louise Howell abstaining, the issue failed for lack of a majority.
Arguing for contract renewal, costing between $7,000 and $8,000, Mayor Dexter Jones said the city needs the help of "professionals." Current policy is for complaints to be handled by the maintenance department or the police in cases of imminent danger.
"We don't have the manpower either in our police department or in our maintenance department," Jones said. "I don't want Thomas or T.L. or anyone else going out there when these dogs could have rabies and all they have is a trap and a stick."
Approved Monday was the purchase of a wood chipper for about $29,000 to be funded by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Also approved was the removal of the skate ramp located behind city hall. The ramp has fallen into disrepair and according to Jones, insurance officials have recommended its removal for liability purposes. Jones, as well as Councilman Chuck Wise, mentioned the possibility of reconstructing a skate ramp or similar form of recreation when funding was available. Councilman Ed MicKlas, however, called the ramp a "nuisance" and suggested in the future to construct something for broader use by all ages such as a tennis court.
Two items were tabled for further discussion including the hiring of seasonal help for grass cutting and the purchase of a handheld meter reader and software. Three bids have been taken from $5,500 to $7,500 for a handheld digital device which crews would use to type in meter readings to eliminate mistakes and reduce manpower. Current procedures have one worker reading the number aloud from the meter while another writes the number down before they are typed into the system at city hall. This system would eliminate steps in the process and create a searchable archive of billing data.
"We have somewhere around 500 different water meters. Being able to just punch it in will eliminate not only a tremendous amount of paperwork but also it will eliminate a lot of manpower," Jones said.
Monday also saw the first reading of a new employee ordinance defining how employees are hired, fired and promoted.