Tuesday evening’s White City Council meeting began with a moment of silence for Tina Nanette Wilhite. A member of the White City Council since 2018, she died Aug. 10 at the age of 55.
White City Clerk Robin Deal told council members the local government had two options for a special-called election — schedule one for Nov. 3, 2020, or one for March 16, 2021.
“We have missed the cutoff date to get anything added to the regular ballot,” Deal said of the November election. “So we would have to have a special election separate from the County election, at a separate place from the County election … plus we would have to have a hearing to have that special election at a separate place from the County election.”
In that scenario, Deal said City of White residents would have to vote at two different polling places to cast their ballots for both the general election and the city council vacancy.
“We have a hard enough time getting people to the polls as it is,” she said. “How hard do you think it would be if you had to go to two places?”
Furthermore, she said that scenario would give candidates barely a month to campaign, with qualifying for the council seat taking place in October.
“I’m sorry, but the November election is already messed up, and that’s just going to make it worse,” Deal said. “The turnout would be terrible, and ya’ll know it.”
The alternative plan, however, sets the special-called election date for early next spring.
“We would have qualifying January — I think my dates are the 18th, 19th and 20th,” Deal said. “And they would have from then until March 16 to do their campaigning. "
The cost of hosting the elections, Deal said, would be the same regardless of the date selected. However, she said that only under the March 16 proposal would the elections headquarters building at 1300 Joe Frank Harris Parkway in Cartersville be able to offer early voting for the city council race.
Ultimately, the White City Council voted across the board to select March 16 as the scheduled special-called election date.
“Now is the time if you know somebody or talking to somebody who might want to run to get them motivated,” Deal said.
She noted that whoever wins the springtime election would have to qualify to run for reelection again in November 2021.
“We’re choosing someone to finish the term of the vacant seat,” Deal said. “And if they decide to run again, they’ll have to do it all over again in August and September.”
Elsewhere on the agenda, council members voted unanimously to approve the 2020 millage rate — which the municipality is required to set, even though it does not collect property taxes.
“We set our rate at 3.000 and we’re rolling it back to 0.000, which means our rate will be zero percent,” Deal said.
Council members also voted to approve an application for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, which would be used to update the City’s playground equipment. If approved for the grant, Deal noted that the City would have to provide a 50% match.
Council members also voted to update the City health insurance plan.
“This year, the plan that we’re on jumped up from 3.4%,” Deal said. “So we decided, as a savings to the City, to take a lesser plan — so instead of getting on a 90-10 plan, it would be on an 80-20 plan.”
The move, she said, will save the local government about $4,260 annually.
“Our current plan that we’re on is $8,087 a year,” she said. “It was going to go up to $887 per person, per month.”
Council members also voted across the board to approve a resolution seeking a $464,000 Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) loan, which would go towards the City’s long-running Richards Road improvement project.
“When we get the resolutions from the railroad and the insurance, we’ve got to send in a check for $70,150, and we’ve already paid some stuff ahead,” said Billy Baker, a representative of the City's water department. “That will get it all, basically, approved that we can turn the engineer loose, and I’m going to go on ahead and call him this week and tell him these resolutions are approved, go ahead and finalize the drawings — they’re basically done, except for just a few minor details on them.”
Council members concluded the public meeting by approving a motion to lease the City’s baseball field amenities.
“It would be kind of nice to have somewhere that you could sign in,” Councilman Dennis Huskins said, “so if they did some damage, you could at least start there trying to find who did the damage.”