Councilmen Talk Ponds and Bonds
The Canton City Council looked at ways to enforce retention pond quality standards and expressed concern that the city's bond referendum may fail because of "misleading" information.
CORRECTION: As pointed out by Jeff Brown, Councilman Beresford is searching for those responsible for the post card campaign against the fire bond, and not Brown himself. Brown is not affiliated with the senders of the post cards.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: The Canton City Council heavily discussed one issue that wasn't apparent yesterday morning and continued the discussion of a very controversial measure during their regular meeting Thursday evening.
A simple zoning condition amendment on two properties in the 490 block of Hospital Road served as a springboard for a lengthy talk on the city's retention ponds.
According to Ken Patton, Director of Community Development, the fixed properties are a 16-unit apartment complex that have been purchased out of foreclosure and completed. The original conditions for acceptance mandated the community be fenced and gated.
The new developers wish to scrap the gate and install fencing between the compound, which will be fenced, and an adjacent fenced retention pond. The developers want to ensure that no children can get into the area between the complex and the pond.
Councilmen then discussed the condition of the city's retention ponds, with Councilman Hooky Huffman remarking that the council should discuss the matter fully during the next council meeting, because, "a lot of our retention ponds are in bad shape."
Patton informed the council that individual property owners are responsible for the maintenance of retention ponds on their property, and the council is now looking for ways to step up code enforcement to improve the quality of the ponds in the city.
The council then approved the job descriptions for the new positions of Economic Development Coordinator/Main Street Director and Special Event Coordinator, in order to speed up the hiring process of these two positions.
Chief Financial Officer Nathan Ingram informed council that by transferring funds from the existing Main Street budget to the newly created departments, the program would be funded for the remainder of the fiscal year.
Mayor Gene Hobgood also asked for councilmen to submit their nominations for the Commission on Canton's Future before the next council meeting, so council can be introduced to and formally swear in the new members.
Councilman John Beresford expressed concern that this body's work would be discarded, much like the work done by the Horizon 2030 committee in 2008. Hobgood explained that unlike the mandatory Horizon 2030 plan, this commission is entirely voluntary, and in his vision, will not dictate what buildings are placed where at what cost, but will develop a pathway to follow that the city can reflect on and measure its success.
"Nobody on this board wants this to be a waste of time," he said. Some audience members cited the revamping of the city's charter, a citizen-run effort, was a waste of time.
Huffman suggested that a commission member could come before the board once a month and add a report, much like the mayor and city manager do at the conclusion of each meeting.
He then reiterated that in the 2008 "Horizon 2030" study, the committee had a recommendation for three city fire stations and their equipment to be built and acquired at a cost of $7.8 million dollars. The current fire bond that will be up for a vote on March 19 will provide the same services for an amount not to exceed $6 million.
Beresford piggybacked on Huffman's comments, and criticized residents behind a post card campaign against the referendum for their "misleading" information on the financial repercussions of the bond.
Beresford specifically asked the post card senders to explain how they came to their claim of a "60 percent property tax increase." He also refuted claims that the senior tax exemption would be removed due to the bond, and that the downtown fire station would close.
The post cards also mentioned that businesses would be discouraged from moving to Canton because of the high taxes.
"Businesses aren't coming forward anyway because of our ISO rating," Beresford countered.
According to Beresford, if the city and county fire departments merge, Canton's seniors will have to pay $210.84 yearly in fire fees, where under the city's plan, they will pay nothing.
"It's a shame we can't have the citizens realize the jeopardy they're putting us in if we don't get this service," Beresford concluded.
Hobgood reminded citizens that their polling place for the bond referendum is the same polling place they would go to for a presidential election; not everyone votes at City Hall anymore.
If citizens have questions on their polling place, they can contact City Clerk Susan Stanton at 770-704-1507 or Janet Munda, Supervisor of Elections & Registration for Cherokee County, at 770-479-0407 then dialing 0.
To watch the replay of the council meeting, follow this link and look for the March 7, 2013 council meeting.