LEESBURG -- The Leesburg City Council, over concerns expressed by members Judy Powell and Bob Wilson, agreed to approve up to $11,000 in funding for construction work on a storage facility for Public Works after interim director Bill Mitchell told the council work had already started on the project.
Wilson objected to Mitchell and other council members' reasoning that approving the money "had to be done" because work had begun on the project.
"I don't know about anything having to be done," Wilson said. "This should have been brought before the council before work started."
Assured by Mayor Jim Quinn that there had been a "miscommunication," the council voted to OK the funding, but under the condition that any future work on the project that required additional funds be approved ahead of time.
Mitchell said he had gotten four bids on site work that would prepare the facility for a concrete pad, noting the bids had come in at "$10,200, $10,400, $11,000 and $13,000," but Powell said the approval of such work should come from the council.
"Those bids should have been brought to this board," she said. "It's the procedure that's in place. Before anything else is done, I would expect prices to be brought to this board for approval."
Mitchell also asked the City Council to approve a "ballpark figure" of "under three grand" for fencing around a sewerage lift station on King Street. He said an Environmental Protection Division inspection had noted the lack of a fence at the station.
"I'd like to ask for funding because the EDP noted we needed the fencing and for safety reasons," Mitchell said, adding that he had gotten two bids on the project.
The council, however, tabled the matter until members had an opportunity to see the bids, calling for a special meeting May 10 to consider the matter.
Also at the meeting, which was presided over by "If I Were Mayor" essay contest winner Emma Keaton, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Lee Middle School, the council was given information on projects that would be funded by a special regional 1 percent transportation sales tax that will be voted on by 14 Southwest Georgia counties, including Lee and Dougherty, on July 31.
"If this measure passes and we go ahead and do some design work ahead of time, I think we'll have the timing of our projects moved up," Lee Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander said. "We'd be ahead of the game."
Alexander noted that the projected $530 million that would come into the region over the 10 years of the special tax would create as many as 14,320 new jobs. Of that funding, $26.5 million would come into Lee County for transportation projects that include Forrester Parkway and Westover Road extension projects, improvements along Starkesville Avenue downtown and a number of sidewalk and bicycle route improvements.
City Attorney Bert Gregory told council members they could promote the T-SPLOST vote individually, but not as a body.
"As individuals, you could -- and I think should -- promote this special tax vote," Gregory said. "But you can't support it as a group because you would be illegally using public funds."