On Tuesday, Jan. 4 Forsyth’s first council meeting of 2022 focused on required first-of-the-year business with council members Mike Dodd, Greg Goolsby, Melvin Lawrence and Chris Hewett, Mayor Eric Wilson, city clerk Regina Ivie and city attorney Bobby Melton attending in person and council members Julius Stroud, John Howard and city manager Janice Hall attending by phone.
Council reappointed all city professionals with the exception of municipal court solicitor Amy Boyer, who resigned effective Dec. 31. Council appointed attorney Dustin Buttigieg in Boyer’s place. Buttigieg applied for the position of solicitor at the same salary as previously paid, $1,750/month. Attorneys Joseph Prine Jr. of Macon and Curtis Jenkins of Forsyth also applied for the position, but Jenkins’ application wasn’t received until the day before the council meeting. Chief municipal court judge Alyssa Peters had already recommended Buttigieg.
Other professional reappointments were Ivie as custodian of records, Peters as chief municipal court judge, Ashley Deadwyler-Heuman as municipal court judge, Frank “Buck” Wilder as alternate municipal court judge, Natalie Sundeen as municipal court public defender, Georgia Corrections Corp as municipal court probation office, Melton as city attorney, Hofstadter & Associates as water & sewer engineers, Mike Leverett (Energy Economics Consulting) as city utility engineer, Mauldin & Jenkins as city financial auditors and Charles Grinstead as city financial consultant.
In case of an election, which isn’t scheduled for 2022, council set the qualifying fee for mayor at $375 (3 percent of the $12,500 salary) and the qualifying fee for council seats at $301.35 (3 percent of the $10,045 salary). Council approved a requisition for $18,488 for R & M Equipment for module modifications, parts and labor for the ultraviolet disinfection system at the Northeast Wastewater Plant.
In her county manager’s report Hall said she is dealing with an issue of Electric Cities of Georgia over-billing Forsyth a total of $19,000 over several years. She said ECG is offering to reimburse the city for only one year of over-billing, which is about $3,000.
Hall said the county’s final counter offer for fees on use of its Justice Center for Forsyth Municipal Court is $1,000/court. Hall said the city holds about 34 courts per year. She said she asked for a no-cancellation penalty agreement because her plan is to move municipal court to the Welcome Center/Alderman Hall building as soon as flooding issues can be resolved and it is “up and running.”
Hall said she continues to get complaints about the garbage pick-up and recycling service provided by Waste Management for the city. Hall said problems continue to get worse even though Waste Management has said it is working to address issues and become reliable with its pick-ups. She said the city’s contract with Waste Management goes through 2024.
“We have to fix the problem. We have to find a solution,” said Wilson. “Waste Management hasn’t held up their end.”
Hall said she tells those who complain to contact the regional manager of Waste Management. She said it’s not the city’s place to show Waste Management where its routes are. Hall said the company is failing to pick up for some customers and picking up at sites that aren’t customers.
“We met face to face in June, but things haven’t gotten any better,” said Melton.
“They haven’t held up any of the promises they made,” said Hall.
Hall told council that an application for rezoning and an application for annexation that came before the Planning & Zoning Commission on Dec. 30 will come before council on Feb. 7. Dodd asked if someone from Planning & Zoning could come to the council to answer questions about the applications. Hall said she will invite P&Z chair Steve Coleman and that she has already asked that more details be added to the P&Z minutes for council’s sake.
Stroud said council needs to do a better job of advertising its meetings, both council meetings and board meetings, like Planning & Zoning. He suggested putting out yard signs advertising the meetings because he doesn’t think that advertising meetings in The Reporter (as is required legally) shows the city is doing enough to keep the public informed about meetings. He suggested putting out yard signs advertising meetings. Hall asked if the city’s sandwich board signs, which it uses to advertise the Farmers Market and Main Street events, would be satisfactory.
“Whatever,” said Stroud. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
In other business, Hall said that there are a number of city employees currently sick with COVID, including herself. She encouraged everyone to wear masks.
In his Mayor’s Report Wilson said the latest report from the state Health District that includes Monroe County shows 10,000 COVID cases in the last month compared to the highest number of 17,000 for a month since the pandemic began.
Goolsby asked why the Reporter said Forsyth had recruited the Bitcoin mining operation that requested rezoning at the Planning & Zoning meeting. Wilson said he had addressed that in interviews with Nick Gibson of Channel 16 and the Reporter. He said consultants showed representatives of the operation several cities and they chose Forsyth. The consultants then located a site in Forsyth.
“We are working through the process,” said Wilson. “We’ll see where it goes.”
The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, Jan. 18 because of the Martin Luther king Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 17.