Centerville approves $7.6 million budget

Telegraph correspondentJune 17, 2014 

CENTERVILLE -- The City Council approved its $7.6 million fiscal 2015 budget Tuesday.

City accountant Carol Harrison said the spending plan is based on the same millage rate as last year, though actual county property tax bills won’t be known until late July or early August when actual rates are set.

Mayor John Harley and Councilman Cameron Andrews have said if new property values increase and keeping the same millage rate actually means a tax increase, they will consider scaling back the budget to accomplish a no-tax-increase budget.

The fiscal 2015 budget, which goes into effect in July, includes money for a new economic development employee, merit pay increases for employees based on annual evaluations, and a fund to save money for a new fire engine. There are no across-the-board cost-of-living increases, no budgeted Christmas bonuses and no salary increases for department heads who received pay increases in March.

The vote on the budget was unanimous, with the absence of Councilman Ed Tucker, who is on active duty with the Georgia Army National Guard.

Also Tuesday, the council officially created the rank of assistant chief for its police and fire departments and promoted two people to the posts.

In the police department, Maj. W.G. Cooley had been acting as major-assistant chief, and in the fire department Capt. David Bostick had been acting as captain-assistant chief.

The council’s action now makes “assistant chief” a specific rank and makes the jobs salaried positions not eligible for overtime.

In addition to other uniform designations and in recognition of their promotions, Cooley was given one captain’s star for each shoulder epaulet, and Bostick received a white chief’s helmet.

In other business, the council was given copies of two ordinances to consider for possible approval at its July 15 meeting.

The first deals with chickens in the city.

City Attorney Rebecca Tydings said she drafted the ordinance at the request of the council and cautioned the measure will likely take a sizable amount of effort on the part of city code officers to enforce.

If passed, the measure would not supersede any current neighborhood covenants or agreements residents are now under, she said.

Without talking about specifics, Tydings presented council members with copies of the ordinance to read and said it covered such matters as the distance required between chicken coops and neighboring property lines. She said the law forbids roosters and the slaughter of chickens.

Tydings said she would provide council members with pro and con articles regarding ordinances in other cities and advised them to do their own research on other city’s experiences with such ordinances.

Officials said they are placing details about the ordinance on the city’s website at www.centervillega.org.

The other ordinance is being called a precious metals ordinance and will allow the city to regulate gold buyers and other precious metals buyers in the city.

Centerville police Capt. Roger Hayes said the ordinance defines precious metals, establishes a $150 licensing fee and requires precious metal buyers to make and keep records of purchases, submit records to police on a weekly basis, hold precious metals for 10 days before they are altered or disposed of and limits hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hayes said the ordinance places gold buyers, not currently regulated, under regulations similar to pawnshop owners. He said businesses in that category in Centerville will be notified of the ordinance prior to the next council meeting for possible input.

Tydings said the measure did not hinder legitimate businesses but would target those acting outside the bounds of the law.

The council has canceled its next regular meeting on July in lieu of the city’s scheduled Hometown Centerville Independence Day Celebration on that date. It will feature concerts, food and fireworks at City Hall on East Church Street.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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