City approves MEAG trust fund disbursement plan

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany City Commission took care of some "house cleaning" items at its work session Tuesday morning, giving tentative approval to several agenda items and getting an overview of the Human Resources Department's newly revised policy manual.

Commissioner Tommie Postell, who serves as chairman of the joint city/Water, Gas & Light Commission Long-Term Financial Planning Committee, asked for and received approval of policy recommended by the committee for disbursement of one-third of the estimated $75 million returned by the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia to WG&L as credits for money paid as a hedge against deregulation.

The funds will be used as enticements to bring new industries/businesses and expand existing industries that impact the city.

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said she'd like the committee to maintain tight control over the trust, which currently is at an estimated $9 million.

"We need to make sure there's a way to replenish these funds," she said. "I want them to go on and on and on."

City Attorney Nathan Davis explained a pair of recommended amendments to the city's ethics ordinance suggested by the city's Ethics Committee. The amendments have to do with confidentiality provisions and conduct unbecoming an employee.

Commissioner Bob Langstaff suggested that the ordinance include a definition of what constitutes confidential information, and while Davis said he could add such a provision, he noted that the committee, "tried to keep the topics as broad as possible."

The board also approved a recommended sexual harassment policy after being told there was no formal policy in place.

"(Sexual harassment) issues would not come before this board; they would come to my office," City Manager James Taylor said. "But you determine policy for the city, so we bring this to you so that you can put a formal policy in place."

Human Resources Director Henry Cohen said the city's HR policy manual had been adopted in 1981 "while still under court order." He noted that many of the items in the manual were therefore outdated, making a major overhaul necessary.

"The number of federal laws that affect employment now are substantial," Cohen said.

The commission also gave tentative approval to Public Works/Engineering requests to construct and maintain an earthen berm at Exeter Drive in south Albany to stop traffic cut-through at Sunchase Apartments and to accept the final two sanitary sewer easements that will allow for construction to begin on the Point North sewer basin.