Kingston approves 2014 budget
by Jason Lowrey
Aug 12, 2014 | 786 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eight months into the year, Kingston has its 2014 budget.

After waiving the need to read its budget resolution during its Monday night meeting, the council unanimously passed they city’s budget. While the act ended one long running problem the city has faced over the year, equally long-lived issues returned to the fore.

During the work session immediately before the regular meeting, the council discussed the need for a work session focused on the city’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax expenditures, such as replacing street signs and needed road work, as well as the need for a noise ordinance. Mayor Wanda Penson said she had searched the city’s ordinances for one pertaining to noise restrictions, but had not found one.

“There should be an ordinance against noise,” she said. “I just can’t find it anywhere. There used to be, years ago, I know.”

Council member Mike Abernathy believed the council should prioritize road work while the summer weather was favorable.

“I think we need to move on two things right away. One is the signs. The second one is go ahead and get the roads done while it’s hot,” he said.

However, Abernathy later broached a topic the council had not discussed in-depth since last year: the approximately $1.3 million loan and $981,000 grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture intended to repair a portion of Kingston’s water system.

“We’re not going to bring this [city] under a couple million dollars of debt ..., so we need to set up another work session, a long-range plan ... If we can spend a couple of hundred thousand a year on these, that would be a great move — a hundred thousand, fifty thousand, get started,” Abernathy said.

Council member Harold Posey asked where the city was concerning the loan. When the council voted to accept the loan during a December 2012 meeting, Posey was the lone member voting against it.

Penson confirmed the loan was on hold.

“It is on hold, and they told me that we could not get no more grants for water while it’s on hold,” she said, “because I called and talked to them about it. So ... no more grants for water while this is on hold. I said, ‘Can we just drop it, then?’”

During the work session the council decided to tentatively schedule another work session dedicated to the water and SPLOST issues on Thursday, Aug. 14, at 6 p.m. at city hall.

The council later discovered one grant it was eligible for during its work session. Julianne Meadows, community and economic development manager with the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, said the city could take advantage of a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to put up signs directing visitors to the city’s historic cemetery where Mattie McGruder, an ancestor of First Lady Michelle Obama, is buried. Meadows said the total cost to install five directional signs and an interpretive plaque at the gravesite would cost approximately $2,500, with Kingston matching either 30 or 50 percent of the cost. Meadows said she would be able to determine the exact match at a later date.

During the meeting, Nellie Applin updated the council on plans to dedicate the memorial to McGruder. She said a tentative date of Saturday, Sept. 20, at 11 a.m. had been chosen. A down payment had been made on the monument, Applin added, and plans are underway for the dedication ceremony.

Abernathy believed the council needed to approve the grant application to the ARC even though the exact match percentage was unknown.

“When we submit this, how long’s it going to take to get? Because I’m thinking about Miss Applin and the fact that she’s going to be doing her project on the 20th, it would be excellent for the city if these signs were already in place. We can install them and save some money there,” he said.

The council approved the grant application with the stipulation that the city’s cost not exceed $1,800.

In other business the council:

• approved a telecommunication resolution for the city, instituting a process for companies to apply for cell tower permits.

• opened an account in order to receive $8,000 in grant money for road projects.

• discussed the towing of a motor home on the city’s right of way.

The Kingston City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8, at city hall, as the Sept. 1 meeting is canceled due to Labor Day. A work session will be held at 6 p.m., with the regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m.