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Ludowici mayor’s pay dispute appears resolved

POSTED: May 16, 2012 8:00 p.m.
Mike Riddle/

Charles Payne Jr. shows one of the containers he’ll use to collect used cooking grease free from residences in Ludowici.

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After two months of disagreement on what the per diem rate was supposed to be for the mayor, the Ludowici City Council voted May 8 that it would be $50.

In April, City Clerk Cindy McClelland reported she had researched the matter after the amount had been questioned residents. According to McClelland, the August 2003 minutes show the council set the expense reimbursement amount at $50 per day. She said that due to these findings, and after reporting it to the council at last month’s meeting, the per diem rate for Mayor James Fuller was corrected to reflect this amount.

At last week’s meeting, Councilman Johnny Manning reported he was bringing an ethics complaint to the council because he did not believe that this was the correct way to pay the mayor. Councilman Mark Chesser also said he disliked this policy and that he had a recording from August 2003 that showed the mayor would be paid $50 for every meeting attended.

After a discussion, Councilman Frank McClelland Jr. said the matter needed to be resolved, and if the minutes from August 2003 said the mayor was to receive $50 per day, then that should continue. He then moved that the mayor’s compensation packet include $50 per diem. Councilwoman Gwen Davis seconded and the motion passed, 3-2, with McClelland, Davis and Mary Hamilton voting in favor. Manning and Chesser voted no.

Manning also brought an ethics complaint against the council regarding pay for the municipal court judge. At the February meeting resident, Janis Goode said she considered $250 per month illegal and above the amount approved by the Georgia General Assembly. Then Goode was told the matter was being researched, that if the pay was a violation it would be reduced and Judge Larry Fowler would reimburse the city. At last week’s meeting, City Attorney Joe Kitchings said no decision had been provided by the state and that it was still being researched.

City engineer Chris Poje reported on several grant applications. He said it appeared the city would get $500,000 from the Department of Community Affairs to repair several sewer lines, and that for every dollar received, local taxpayers would pay 13 cents.

A second $500,000 grant/loan he’s seeking from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority would fund work at the sewage plant and waste pond. The money would pay to remove sludge from the ponds. Poje expects it to cost less than the amount applied for. The council voted unanimously to approve all paperwork for both projects.

The council also heard Charles Payne Jr. offer free pickup of used cooking oil from city residents. Payne said his company would leave collection containers in homes and once a month, pick up the used cooking oil. He said the oil is recycled into diesel fuel.
He said he would like to eventually open a recycling center in Long County. The council approved his request.

Police Chief T.J. Gaskin asked for all new weapons for officers. He said having a standard pistol would make training easier and allow officers to share ammunition in during emergencies. He said the guns with clips would cost $2,594.

Gaskin also asked for approval of a drug and crime awareness night on Aug. 7, which is National Night Out. The council approved both requests.

Council also approved a police escort for a parade by the Walker High School Alumni Committee on June 30.

Fuller reported  that the city’s general fund had a balance of $120,943, a water-and-sewage account balance of $117,271, and a general fund savings balance of $311,249. He added that there were no outstanding bills.

 

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