Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation last week that allows counties and cities to vote on Sunday alcohol sales. Tonight, member Bob Rush will discuss a possible referendum that would put the decision in the hands of the voters. A referendum wouldn't require too much heavy lifting in Canton, where voters are already set to vote for mayor and three council seats Nov. 8.
are also on the agenda. City leaders met with the Cherokee Water & Sewerage Authority on Tuesday to discuss possible solutions to the city's mounting debt, much of which is tied to the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir. For background, view the video on this page.
Canton-Sixes Patch editor Rodney Thrash is at the meeting. Follow his live updates on Twitter (@CantonSxesPatch), and we'll compile those messages here a few minutes later for further contemplation and comment. Click on the PDF on this page for the agenda.
8:04 p.m. Bryan motions to adjourn. Tanner seconds. The meeting's over.
8:04 p.m. Hobgood: "There's a gap in the compensation." In the 1980s it was higher than it was at a later date.
8:03 p.m. He suggests residents Andy Alexander and Bill Grant.
8:02 p.m. Rush suggests the city appoint a citizen committee to come up with recommendations for implementation in the next year.
8:02 p.m. The mayor wants to codify the pay scale of the mayor and the council. Currently, there is none.
8:01 p.m. Finally: mayor and council compensation.
8 p.m. The mayor wants it on the agenda for the next meeting to discuss three or four of the worst streets.
8 p.m. The mayor's report begins. The mayor discusses street paving projects and suggests the council come up with a list of the next three roads in need of attention.
8 p.m. They haven't rescinded anything tonight.
7:59 p.m. Clarification: The council will take a vote at the next meeting to rescind a previous vote on striping at .
7:58 p.m. The council will rescind the vote on striping at Heritage Park, calling it an "ill-advised" and "snap" decision.
7:57 p.m. Goodwin: "I'm for whatever the citizens want."
7:56 p.m. The public has been emailing the council.
7:55 p.m. Tanner, Bryan and others says they weren't fully aware of the issue when it was brought up last month.
7:54 p.m. With the city's financially precarious position, Rose says the city shouldn't be spending money on striping Heritage Park at this time.
7:54 p.m. Wood: "We allow 20-speed bicycles in the park, and I don't know why."
7:54 p.m. Wood: "Why do we want adult bicycles in the park? Children's bicycles, that's fine."
7:52 p.m. Bryan says at the next meeting he would like to hold off doing any striping at Heritage Park.
7:51 p.m. Hobgood says a full report on the cemetery will be available at the next meeting.
7:50 p.m. He wants the city to engage a firm that would tell them how to maintain the cemetery or how to sell it.
7:50 p.m. "Right now, we are using funds to maintain this, and it's costing us money. I don't think we're benefiting from it."
7:50 p.m. Beresford now talks about Southview Cemetery.
7:49 p.m. Rush is going to put the credit manual on the agenda for the next meeting for a vote.
7:48 p.m. The city's ordinance indicates Canton must have a stormwater utility credit manual.
7:45 p.m. The schools are currently paying stormwater fees, Hobgood says in response to question from Beresford.
7:43 p.m. Rush talks about a stormwater utility credit "manual" that allows cities and residents to reduce their stormwater charge. Schools would be able to opt out of the charge.
7:42 p.m. Moving on: Storm Water Utility Credit Program.
7:41 p.m. Council member Jack Goodwin: That's the fair way to do it.
7:40 p.m. Bryan: Everybody needs to pay the same for the same service.
7:40 p.m. Now 4,000 residents are paying $16.50, and 1,200 or so are paying the senior rate, Rush says.
7:39 p.m. Bryan proposes the city level the playing field and have everyone pay the same rate.
7:38 p.m. "It sounds like a good idea on the surface," Bryan says. "Only the seniors who own their home get the special rate. There are many seniors not getting the rate."
7:37 p.m. Bryan on the senior garbage pickup: The seniors are better off than the working people are.
7:35 p.m. Hobgood says the trash fund is making money.
7:34 p.m. He says he's looking at the level of fairness for those 4,000 seniors/customers.
7:34 p.m. Rates have changed over the years, and the gap between the regulars and seniors is closing. There's now only a difference of 14 cents, he says.
7:33 p.m. In 2006, the city was charging $7 a month. Waste Management was charging $8.50. Others were charging $16 and $11.29.
7:32 p.m. Next up: a senior waste pickup charge. Rush says the city has a discounted rate for trash pickup.
7:32 p.m. Hobgood says at the next meeting the committee will be appointed.
7:30 p.m. Next up: Rush suggests the mayor appoint a committee to review water/sewer billing procedures—if Canton remains in the water business.
7:30 p.m. Tanner moves to put the topic on the agenda for the next meeting.
7:26 p.m. Rush: "The city should be ... putting money away for a rainy day. As far as I'm concerned, as a city we're living paycheck to paycheck."
7:21 p.m. Beresford: "The reserve fund is right on. It needs to be planned for in the 2012 budget. We need to have that set up."
7:21 p.m. Rush suggests $300,000 as a start.
7:20 p.m. Rush reminds the council that Canton has nothing in asking for the creation of the reserve fund.
7:19 p.m. Next up: the creation of a reserve fund. Tanner said at earlier meeting that cities of Canton's size should have $1.7 million.
7:19 p.m. That's all for Sunday alcohol sales. City attorney Dyer will draft the request.
7:18 p.m. Rush asks the city attorney to draft a request/resolution to direct the clerk to call the referendum.
7:17 p.m. "Any time you give citizens an opportunity to make a decision, I'm not opposed to that," Hobgood says.
7:17 p.m. Rush: We may as well put it on the ballot and let the voters decide.
7:17 p.m. Next up: Sunday alcohol sales.
7:16 p.m. Other changes include the distance between a seller of alcohol and a school.
7:11 p.m. That would be 50 percent food, 50 percent alcohol. Canton currently requires 60 percent food sales, 40 percent alcohol.
7:08 p.m. The changes include a revised food-to-alcohol ratio to be in line with the state's.
7:06 p.m. Rush is discussing revisions to the city's alcohol ordinance.
7:06 p.m. Next up: the council-introduced items.
7 p.m. Now the council is going over March's financials, a routine procedure the council conducts at every meeting.
6:57 p.m. Just before the landfill discussion, Wood said bids are scheduled to be accepted on May 16 for the Waleska Street and Hickory Flat streetscape projects. Bids will be solicited in the Cherokee Tribune and the Cherokee Ledger-News as well as the city's website.
6:57 p.m. That $70,000 to $75,000 is to continue to contract with a company, Santek.
6:56 p.m. An engineering firm has already been paid $30,000 for work on the landfill.
6:55 p.m. Hobgood: Time is critical. We don't know where all that gas is going, and we need to find out.
6:54 p.m. The next chapter in the process: a $70,000 to $75,000 investment from the city. Wood has not specified what that investment would be.
6:54 p.m. Now on the agenda: the city landfill. There's methane gas under one of the buildings there. The state Environmental Protection Division is aware of it. There's no "imminent danger."
6:53 p.m. The council may have erred on the date of that auction. A letter from City Manager Wood indicates it's on May 7, which is this Saturday.
6:51 p.m. The council approves the list of items to be sold at auction.
6:51 p.m. Next up: a surplus auction on May 14.
6:49 p.m. So he urges everyone to vote early to avoid having to cast ballots at two different places.
6:49 p.m. As much of an inconvenience as it might be, Wood recommends the city keep the system as is.
6:49 p.m. Wood doesn't recommend that because if there's a runoff in the city election, the city would have to reverse all of that.
6:48 p.m. But the city would have to spend $6,000 to reissue precinct cards and get Department of Justice approval.
6:47 p.m. The only alternative, Wood says, would be to allow people to vote at their county precinct for city elections.
6:47 p.m. That's on Election Day specifically.
6:47 p.m. So some will have to cast city and county ballots at two different places. Wood is one of them.
6:46 p.m. Some city residents' precinct is City Hall. For others, it's elsewhere.
6:46 p.m. The school district's SPLOST election will run concurrent with city's election on Nov. 8.
6:45 p.m. Wood is discussing city elections.
6:45 p.m. The water and sewer fund discussionis completed. Next up: the city manager's report.
6:44 p.m. "If we can't make it without the reservoir and two water plants freeing up $600,000 worth of sales tax money, we're not doing something right."
6:44 p.m. Hobgood: "We can't allow those rates to go beyond other jurisdictions."
6:43 p.m. Hobgood wraps up by reiterating: "If the numbers don't work, we have to say thanks but no thanks."
6:42 p.m. Cobb would take full ownership of the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir.
6:42 p.m. The WSA would assume ownership of the city's water and wastewater treatment plants.
6:41 p.m. The proposal would relieve all the debt on the reservoir, Hobgood says.
6:40 p.m. Hobgood: There could be an effort between Cherokee and Cobb-Marietta. We have to analyze financials to see if it will work for us.
6:39 p.m. Hobgood: "Our meeting with the WSA was reasonably productive. The ball is in our park now."
6:39 p.m. Tanner: "Look at the figures. Draft a recommendation" as to what "will get us over the hump this year" so we "can put it to rest."
6:38 p.m. Tanner: "We've discussed it for the past two months or more."
6:37 p.m. Council member Pat Tanner: "We have milked this cow to death. It's time to send the cow back to the barn."
6:36 p.m. Beresford: "When we throw out 20 percent, 30 percent, those are big numbers. When we look at it and see the dollar figure, we're talking some dollars. I'd rather use dollars. Here's what is now. Here's what it's going to be."
6:35 p.m. Wood says the total number the city needs to operate the water system by September is about $2 million that is currently unbudgeted.
6:35 p.m. Council member Bill Bryan says that increase needs to be in the ballpark of 20 percent to 23 percent to avoid tapping into the general fund.
6:34 p.m. "There's no reason to dodge" an increase, Beresford says, so the city won't be "obligated to a point of no return" at the end of the year.
6:34 p.m. "Bottom line: We've got to have an increase," Beresford says. He says it has to happen by June 1.
6:33 p.m. Council member John Beresford says he's not blind to the fact that the city needs an increase in rates.
6:33 p.m. Wood says he can get the numbers to the council tomorrow.
6:32 p.m. There's a $1.5 million bond payment for the Hickory Log Creek Reservoir that the city has to meet this year.
6:31 p.m. Wood says there is a rate structure that has been calculated.
6:30 p.m. Next up: water and sewer rates.
6:30 p.m. They would be covered until they are 65 or meet the requirements for health benefits and Social Security benefits. Also includes are spouses of those retirees.
6:29 p.m. Those additional classes include retirees who took early retirement when offered to the city employees in 2001, 2005 and 2007.
6:28 p.m. The city wishes to create an additional class of retirees to be covered by the health insurance policy.
6:28 p.m. The city previously adopted policies to cover certain retired employees and elected officials.
6:25 p.m. The city attorney is explaining the specifics of the resolution.
6:25 p.m. From Will Goodwin (@willgoodwin): "You got to let me take a head shot of you with the canton skyline in the background. :)"
6:25 p.m. There's a resolution to direct city staff to notify the health insurance carrier of additional classifications.
6:24 p.m. First up: a discussion of the health insurance retiree class.
6:23 p.m. Now old business.
6:22 p.m. Council member Bob Rush suggests a few designated city leaders meet with Universal prior to the May 19 council meeting so everyone is on the same page.
6:21 p.m. Apparently, the company had to pay a $20,000 sewer tap fee, Hobgood says. Hobgood says he doesn't understand why.
6:20 p.m. "They've asked about certain impact fees ... and tap fees ... and if they can be reduced in any way," Hobgood says.
6:20 p.m. "Any time you can add 90 employees in the city, you need to try to work with them," Hobgood says.
6:19 p.m. Hobgood says that by 2014, Universal would be looking to add up to 90 employees.
6:18 p.m. Hobgood says he doesn't have a problem with it, but it would help them to get approval from the council.
6:18 p.m. Hobgood says company officials have asked if they can park along the edge of Lamar Haley Parkway during the expansion.
6:18 p.m. The company could potentially invest $27 million in the county.
6:18 p.m. Universal Allied wants a waiver on fees and would like to be placed on the agenda for the next council meeting, Martin says.
6:17 p.m. From Will Goodwin (@willgoodwin): "Ha ... sure. He blogs more than me so that's a step in the right direction."
6:16 p.m. She says Universal Alloy could expand in Canton and add 60 or so jobs.
6:16 p.m. Misti Martin of the Cherokee Economic Development Authority is speaking.
6:15 p.m. The Volunteer Aging Council will have a gala on Aug. 20.
6:15 p.m. @willgoodwin One step at a time.
6:15 p.m. From Will Goodwin (@willgoodwin): "Somebody needs to get mayor Hobgood on twitter. :)"
6:08 p.m. Aging Council/ receives a proclamation from Mayor Gene Hobgood.
6:03 p.m. And the Canton City Council meeting is under way.