Albany City Commission OKs stormwater utility, enterprise fund

Albany residents will see stormwater fee added to utility bills starting in April

ALBANY — Long-discussed plans to develop a federally mandated stormwater utility and stormwater enterprise fund for the city of Albany became reality Tuesday night at the Albany City Commission’s business meeting, as the commission voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance that would create the special utility.

City Public Works Director Phil Roberson said the next phase of the stormwater plan is education.

“We’d planned to start collecting user fees in January, but we’ve pushed that up to April,” Roberson said. “We’ll hold meetings with some of our biggest users and try to reach as many citizens as possible in the next four months.”

The commission also voted to give blanket alcohol license renewals to establishments that hold such licenses with the exception of one establishment: the Icons bar on Washington Street. The absence of Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell, whose wife died this week, left the commission without enough “Yes” votes to give blanket approval.

Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard votes “No” on all alcohol matters, and Ward II Commissioner Ivey Hines abstains from alcohol-related votes. When Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike said he would abstain from the vote because of his ties to Icons, the commission was left with a 3-1-2 vote. Four votes are necessary to pass a measure.

Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta offered a motion to table the vote just on Icons but to grant blanket approval of all other establishments so that their businesses would not be impacted. That vote passed 4-1-1.

Marietta also asked City Manager James Taylor to place discussion of previously approved phased-in increases of alcohol license fees, which include a significant increase this year, at the commission’s next work session.

Also at the business meeting, the commission:

— Approved new alcohol licenses for J&D Liquor Store at 2213 E. Oglethorpe Blvd. and a Homerun Foods planned for 2305 Dawson Road, as well as a one-day license for a Theatre Albany fundraiser Jan. 25;

—OK’d rezoning requests for property at Oakridge Drive, Third Avenue, and on Broadway Street, Norfolk Lane, Railroad Street and Broadway Court. The latter vote will allow the city to build low- to moderate-income housing for the elderly;

— Passed a memorandum of understanding with Dougherty County over shared implementation of the Georgia Crime Information system;

— Awarded HUD-sponsored HOME funding for Flint River Habitat for Humanity;

— Authorized the use of SPLOST funds for Phase III construction at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

“Now we can get to work and finish that project,” Airport Director Yvette Aehle said after the vote.