At Tuesday’s Albany City Commission meeting, Mayor Dorothy Hubbard made a special presentation recognizing the winners of the Albany Dougherty Historic Preservation Commission 2012-2013 Student Art Competition & Exhibit. From left are Marlee Skinner, third place; Hadden Kelly, second place; and Emily McPeters, first place.
ALBANY, Ga. -- After an extended discussion and a flurry of late amendments, the Albany City Commission approved a local procurement preference ordinance Tuesday that should increase purchasing opportunities for local vendors.
The ordinance will allow qualified local vendors whose bid is within 2 percent of the lowest bid by an out-of-town vendor to match the lower bid. Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff asked for a friendly amendment requiring local vendors who qualify for the preference ordinance to be up to date on taxes owed the city.
"We don't want to do business with somebody who already owes us money," Langstaff said.
Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines had asked in a pre-briefing that the ordinance, which will remain in place for a three-year period before coming up for review, include an annual report on its impact on local bidders. Langstaff also asked that the number of bids received be monitored to determine if the ordinance will cut into the number of qualified bids the city receives.
Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta questioned the amendment requiring vendors' taxes to be paid, saying errors in the tax office could eliminate a potential local business.
"We're in a sticky mess trying to depend on our tax department to determine if someone is a legitimate vendor," Marietta said. "I had a constituent tell me (the tax office) wouldn't accept his check because it was $23 different from their records. I don't like the way that office operates."
Also at the meeting, the commission approved an ordinance that will establish new, higher license fees for businesses that sell and serve alcohol. The new fees will be implemented under a two-tiered plan. The first increase will go into effect for new businesses that request licenses after May 31 and for all businesses that renew or apply for licenses on Jan. 1, 2014. The second increase will begin on Jan. 1, 2015.
Increases in the fees range from $30 for wine package sales to $1,200 for liquor, beer and wine sales by the drink. The new fees are expected to generate $145,000 in increased revenue.
The commission also voted to enact an ordinance that will increase motor vehicle rental fees by 3 percent effective June 1, a measure expected to increase city coffers by $179,000.
Commissioners approved the policy and criteria established for a lauded Job Investment Program funded by credits returned to the city's Water, Gas & Light Commission from the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. The funds equal one-third of an almost $90 million return of money collected as a hedge against deregulation that has been distributed by MEAG to WG&L over the last several years.
"I want it to be stated for the record that this is one of the biggest things the city has done in being pro-business; it's historic in a way," Marietta said of the Job Investment Program, which will offer monetary incentives for businesses locating or adding at least 100 new jobs or $10 million in capital improvements in Albany and Dougherty County.
The commission also OK'd distribution of HUD-funded Community Development Block Grants to Open Arms Inc ($15,000), the Albany Area YMCA for a program at Martin Luther King Elementary School ($10,000), Alzheimer's Outreach Center of South Georgia ($10,000), Mt. Zion Community Reinvestment Corp. Samaritan Clinic ($25,000) and Liberty House ($15,000).