City Council votes to sell Historic property as surplus

Gym project receives go-ahead at August Meeting


Swainsboro City Council held their regular monthly meeting Monday, August 8, at 6 p.m. Following the Prayer of Invocation that was provided by John Hancock III of Beacon of Hope Church of God, and the Pledge of Allegiance that was led by John Bailey, and recited by all, Council unanimously approved the minutes from the June 10, 2023, regular meeting, and the July 24, 2023, special called meeting.

Before the meeting commenced, Mayor Bennet commended the Veterans for the spectacular job they’re doing at the Veterans and First Responders Memorial Park. He then asked Council to review the minutes as presented. Councilperson Davis motioned to approve the minutes and Councilperson Stafford seconded.

Councilperson Collins asked to correct an item on the agenda from the July 24, special called meeting. The correction was made to the number of votes of 6-0 for exhibit B. Collins stated that she did not vote for that item and would like the record to show that.

Council unanimously passed the minutes with the corrected change.

Old Business:

1.Council considered the drawings and reappropriations for the gym project. These updated drawings include three unisex bathrooms and the storage closet being changed to a break room. Mayor Bennett recommended to expand the size of the classrooms by five more feet because the drawings currently have them listed at only 15ft wide. He explained that by doing this it will separate the building in half and provide visitors with more space and will not interfere with the overall dimensions of the building. Councilperson Parker motioned to pass a vote to extend the sizes of the two classrooms – “halfway to the building,” as recommended by Mayor Bennett. Additionally, he motioned to put the item out for bid. Councilperson Quarterman seconded the vote. The vote passed 5-1 with Councilperson Sconyers voting against it.

2.Council considered the intergovernmental agreement regarding the recreational facilities and activities for the citizens of Emanuel County. City Attorney Levis approached council to explain the legalities of the intergovernmental agreement, which has already been approved by the County, as well as the addendum that has been drafted by City Administrator, Middlebrooks, and County Administrator, Singletary. The addendum addresses several issues regarding city employees, including sick time, vacation time, and compensatory time. Because the recreation department is being dissolved, the city would be paying half of the accrued sick, vacation, and compensatory time. The county would be taking the remaining half of that and be applying it to the accrued time under their PTO equal amount. However, that would not be the case if a recreation employee chose to retire or was no longer employed with the county. Recreation employees will receive the same medical benefits that have always been provided and a retirement plan based on the number of years that they have been employed with the city. In addition to that, the city currently pays a medical supplement of $500 a month per three employees which totals to $18,000 for those three employees. That money is currently split 50/50 between the county and the city. However, on the effective date of September 30, the city will then be responsible for that expense going forward. Councilperson Davis made a motion to approve the agreement changes and the addendum presented to council. The motion passed 3-2 with Davis, Sconyers, and Stafford passing the vote and Collins and Quarterman, opposing the vote. Parker abstained from voting. Later in the meeting, Parker amended the agenda after reconsidering his decision and changed his vote to pass the agreement. The vote passed 4-2.

3.Council considered the alcoholic beverage license application for Bradley Hooks dba The Stockyard restaurant located in the Walmart shopping plaza. The vote passed 5-0 with Collins acting as Mayor Pro-tem.

4.Council heard from Ms. Giselle White-Perry regarding the Robin Road Project. Ms. Perry approached council to clear up any confusion for council members and concerned citizens to explain that she’s only serving as an advisor for the Project Committee. Her goal is to simply help the residents of that area and gather information so that council can make a more informed decision for the project.

New Business:

1.Council considered the bid for the historic Swainsboro light and Water Plant that’s located on east Moring Street. The property is listed on the register of National Historic Places. Council only received one bid for the property from Stephanie Allen, for the price of $3,000. Councilperson Davis motioned to pass the vote with Parker seconding. The vote passed 4-2 with Sconyers and Stafford against.

2.Chris Morton with Clearwater presented two quotes to council for consideration for the Inert Landfill and Debris Grinding. The first quote is for a maintenance program for grinding and hauling the debris for a one-time estimation fee of $40,000. City Administrator, Middlebrooks, explained that this money will have to be taken out of the general funds account. Davis made first motion and Parker seconded with all other votes passing unanimously.

3.Council considered the purchase and lease of city vehicles. At the last meeting, Council approved to use Enterprise to lease six police cruisers, and Daniels Chevrolet to purchase city vehicles. These vehicles include a F550 crane truck for public works that totals to $5,328, (unintelligible) a Chevrolet Tahoe for the K9 unit, and a public works 3500, (unclear) for $115,000. These items will be purchased through monies collected from SPLOST and will be paid for through yearly payments. The vote passed unanimously.

4.Council considered a moratorium for a halfway house. City Attorney Levis addressed council to recommend that they consider a 180-day moratorium which essentially would stop the reopening of halfway houses (unclear) but allow any halfway houses that are currently existing to get a license or continue operating. It will also allow any entities that may fall into that category to continue operation. This includes churches or any other facilities who are remodeling any of these properties so that the city can evaluate and make a recommendation account on how to address that. Davis motioned to approve the moratorium, Quarterman seconded, and all other council members voted unanimously.

5.Council considered appointing members to the airport authority. This item was previously approved in early January of this year; however, the County made some updates to it and sent it to the city for reconsideration. Councilperson Stafford nominated Councilperson D.J. Davis and Councilperson Julian Sconyers. Attorney Levis recommended that the agreement be done in unison. Sconyers made the motion to accept the intergovernmental agreement resolution as presented and Davis seconded with all other votes passing unanimously. Sconyers then seconded Stafford’s first motion to approve the appointment of Ken Warnock, D.J. Davis, and Julian Sconyers, to the Airport Authority. The vote passed unanimously.

6.Council considered work sessions. Davis made the motion for Council to meet on the last Monday of every month to discuss any issues that need privy or any ideas that come up before the following agenda or public meeting. Parker seconded. The vote passed unanimously.

7.Council unanimously approved to change the next council meeting to Tuesday, September 5, in observance of Labor Day.

8.Council approved the purchase of a MAC Knuckle Boom truck at the cost of $222,000.

Consent Agenda:

1.Council considered the approval for the referendum resolution of Sunday alcohol sales on city premises. Councilperson Parker motioned to approve this referendum with councilperson Quarterman seconding. Colllins was in favor making for a 3-3 tie with Councilpersons Stafford, Sconyers, and Davis opposing. Mayor Bennett broke the tie with a vote in favor.

Councilperson Davis made a motion to go into executive session, councilperson Sconyers seconded, and the vote passed unanimously. With nothing discussed in executive session, the meeting adjourned.

For a more in-depth experience, you can watch this City Council meeting LIVE by visiting the Emanuel County Live Facebook page.