The Ludowici City Council approved the city’s 2013 budget for the water and sewer and general funds during Thursday afternoon’s meeting.
According to data provided by the city auditor, the water and sewer fund’s projected expenses are $584,398, and the general fund’s projected expenses are $1,321.331.
Prior to voting on the budget, the council heard from Jim Fuller about a dental and vision insurance plan for city employees. Fuller said his company’s plan costs less than the city’s current plan with Blue Cross & Blue Shield and provides better coverage when an employee is assigned to a specialist who is outside the normal network. He said the council had a four-month window to approve the new plan, but Councilman Mark Chesser said if the plan costs less and offers more, he motioned that the council accept the plan. The plan was approved.
Afterward, the council unanimously voted to approve the budget. Chesser and Mayor James Fuller questioned whether they could propose and approve the budget in the same meeting.
“The auditor told us last year we could propose the budget at the beginning of the meeting, then vote on it at the end of the meeting,” city clerk Cindy McClelland said.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Sean Tucker, owner of the Brown Bagger, asked the council why the board of elections had not acted on the petition he had submitted 90 days ago asking for a referendum for approval of liquor sales. Chesser reminded him the board had been unusually busy in recent months with redistricting plans and a special election.
“I understand that,” said Tucker, who said he had not heard anything from election board chairwoman Vanessa Cunningham. “Let’s just get it done. Let the people of Ludowici say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with a referendum.”
Councilwoman Mary Hamilton agreed, adding she would personally go by the election board on Friday and find out what’s going on. She said if it’s been 90 days since he submitted the petition, he should have heard something by now, even though she understood the board had to first examine every name on the petition to verify the person was registered to vote in city elections.
Hamilton read a letter from James F. Fuller Jr., who announced in the letter that he was resigning as the city’s recorder pro tem. Ludowici resident Janice Goode, who was videotaping the meeting, said from the guest chambers that she wanted to speak on the resignation. Mayor Fuller asked her if her name was on the meeting agenda to address the council. It was not, so he declined her request. Goode tried several more times to speak but was told she could not address the council. She then said she wanted to make sure no one else who wasn’t on the agenda spoke to the council. No one else attempted to address the council.
In other business, Hunter Pilkinton was hired on council approval as a permanent, full-time employee with the city’s water department. Mayor Fuller told the council the young man had been working part-time for the city water department, and he was doing “a really fine job.”