Warner Robins council resurrects board to focus on recreation

chwright@macon.comMay 6, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- City Council will resurrect a dormant board that will have input on recreation plans for the city, council members decided Monday.

Recreation was one of almost two dozen items, which included changes to gaming machine and gun sales ordinances, council reviewed at its dual meetings held at an earlier time than usual.

Councilman Mike Davis opened the recreation talk with a proposal for the long dormant Public Facilities Authority to meet with the Recreation Advisory Committee to make firm recreation plans for the city.

The Recreation Advisory Committee is a resident board. Mayor and council are the Public Facilities Authority’s board members. It “can buy and sell more than the city can,” said Mayor Chuck Shaheen.

“We’re resurrecting a sleeping giant,” Shaheen said.

City Council talked about recreation at its daylong session in March, when Recreation Director James Dodson presented his master plan. But council members told him it was not what they had envisioned.

Davis and Dodson said they’re not sure when the two groups will meet. Davis said it won’t be this week.

Davis said his top priority would be the sports complex that’s been talked about for nearly two decades.

“That’s what the citizens want,” said Keith Lauritsen, Recreation Advisory Committee chairman.

Plans for the complex are unclear, but it once was thought to be baseball and softball fields for tournaments. Council recently bought land at Elberta and North Houston roads for the complex.

“I want the Public Facilities Authority to be responsible for it being built,” Davis said.

Davis said other ideas will focus on sports other than baseball and softball.

In other business

Also at the meeting, council unanimously repealed an ordinance that required gun dealers to report sales on a weekly basis. Davis said the ordinance was enacted in 1957, has never been followed and is unnecessary.

“They already are required to report to the federal government. They already report to the state,” he said.

Council also approved amendments to the gaming machine ordinance. The last amendment in October required businesses with coin-operated amusement machines to install cameras and report the monthly earnings from each.

The first amendment Monday reduced the maximum allowed gaming machines from nine to six. The second moved the reporting date from the fifth of the following month to the 20th.

For some businesses, the fifth of the month was too soon, said City Attorney Jim Elliott.

Council also voted 4-2 to increase city employees’ co-pays for emergency room visits, doctor office visits and brand name prescriptions. The changes will be effective July 1.

Councilman Mike Daley said the city spent $7 million on health care last year, and the cost is set to rise 7 percent. He said the changes are aimed at adjusting the employees’ habits to help save money.

“I feel like we’re saving money on the backs of the employees that are out here doing a good job for us every day,” said Davis, who voted against the amendment with Councilman Daron Lee.

Daley said some exceptions could be made on a case-by-case basis.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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