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Commission says 'no' to travel benfits transfer

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY, Ga. -- Those looking for fireworks at Tuesday night's Albany City Commission business meeting in the form of a battle to allow commissioners who do not sign up for city insurance to have funds added to their travel accounts were sorely disappointed.

When Commissioner Roger Marietta asked that the recommended action be denied, as he'd said he would in a pre-briefing before the meeting, many looked on in astonishment as Commissioner Tommie Postell -- the man who had initially suggested the action -- seconded his motion.

The full Commission, many holding back laughter, voted to kill the measure.

"I don't know if Commissioner Postell had a change of heart or what, but the matter is now dead," Marietta said after the meeting.

In the pre-briefing, for which Postell arrived late -- after discussion of the issue was completed -- Marietta encouraged his fellow board members to deny the request once and for all.

"I'm going to offer a motion to deny this action," Marietta said in the pre-briefing, "and I hope someone seconds it so we can put this behind us. The public beat us up just over talking about this issue, and it's been an embarrassment to the city.

"I know Tommie's not here right now, but I hope we can put a stake through this thing's heart tonight."

Postell did get in a few verbal shots during discussion of a consent agenda item that called for $74,955 in consultant fees for development of a federally mandated bicycle and pedestrian plan for the metropolitan area. Planning Director Howard Brown said he planned to ask other entities in the MSO -- Dougherty and Lee counties -- if they would share in the 20 percent of matching costs for the consulting fees.

"That's an astronomical fee just for a consultant," Postell said. When Brown said 80 percent of the money would come from the federal government, Postell shot back, "You say it's not going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money because 80 percent of it is federal dollars, but federal dollars are still taxpayer money."

Postell said he'd prefer Dougherty and Lee leaders be asked to participate before a vote was taken, and Mayor Willie Adams said, "We're talking about, what, $15,000?"

Postell replied, "I don't care if it's $1, I want to know what that dollar is going for."

The Commission voted to approve $199,000 from the special MEAG Trust to fund personnel and equipment for the Albany Police Department's Gang Unit for a period of a year. Commissioner Bob Langstaff voted against the allocation.

"I'm in favor of funding the Gang Unit, but not from the MEAG Trust," he said.

Commissioners approved alcohol license applications for Pebbles Country Kitchen at 1939 S. Jackson St., Pico de Gallo Mexican Restaurant at 2313 E. Broad Ave., and Buy Rite at 2400 Clark Ave., as well as a one-day license for a May 14 fundraiser at Darton College. Also OK'd was an exemption that will allow Hooter's restaurant to hold its annual charity swimsuit pageant.

In other action, the Commission:

-- Authorized an intergovernmental agreement with the Dougherty County School System that will include the system in the collection of ad valorem taxes for the Albany Riverfront and Gateway Tax Allocation District;

-- Approved an interim application process for wireless telecommunication towers that will allow the city to utilize expertise of an engineering firm to help in determining location and cost;

-- Authorized initiation of procedures to close Ebony Lane Road;

-- OK'd use of $76,880 in Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax V funds to pave a sidewalk area at the Gordon Sports Complex;

-- Affirmed the Albany/Dougherty Historic Preservation Commission's recommended certificates of appropriateness for properties at 1000 N. Jefferson St. and 404 W. Second Ave., but denied a similar request at 501 W. Broad Ave. because the property did not, according to Brown, comply with Department of Interior standards; and

-- Passed the consent agenda that included $320,000 in funding for asbestos abatement in the city, $45,575 for carpet/vinyl installation, $42,828 for the purchase of two pickup trucks, $134,181.12 for 24 mobile computers and $60,470.52 for 24 Premier MDC Mobile Clients.

Police Chief John Proctor recognized citizen of the year Lamar Delrich, civilian of the year Jerry Shelton and police officer of the year Sgt. Kandace Hird at the meeting.