A Ludowici City Council seat will remain vacant for the time being due to problems with the population distribution in the city’s five districts.
The council decided to postpone a special election after Long County Board of Elections Chairwoman Vanessa Cunningham told members Tuesday that the population distribution for the city was 91.4 percent out of compliance with state requirements. It must be no more than 10 percent out of compliance to meet standards.
The need for a special election arose when former District 3 Councilman Frank McClelland Jr. vacated his seat in May to run for Long County sheriff.
Cunningham said that before the city holds a special election, it must approve new district lines to meet the population-distribution requirements. The General Assembly must approve the new districts.
Cunningham said she’s unsure how long it will take to complete the process.
“I honestly cannot answer that question today,” she said.
Ludowici Mayor James Fuller said, “There is no sense in having any election until we get within the compliance guidelines. If we do, the results could be challenged. We will do all we can to complete the requirements so that an election can be held as quickly as possible.”
Also at the meeting, Ludowici resident Price Chapmen presented several issues. He asked the council to consider submitting paperwork for a $10,000 local maintenance and improvements grant through the Department of Transportation to complete a sidewalk from where Franklinia Restaurant is located to the city limits and to repair potholes in the city.
Chapman also said he thinks the city charter is outdated and encouraged the council to make it current and to continue the process of filling the District 3 council seat.
Fuller told Chapman that in recent months the city has been focused on seeking grants for improvements and repairs to the sewage system, drainage ponds and two pump stations. These projects affect the entire city, the mayor said, so they’re a top priority. Chapman said he understands, but still thinks pursing the grant is a good idea.
In other business, the council:
• approved the Georgia Municipal Association manage the natural gas account for the city. According to GMA spokesperson Pam Helton, they are able to purchase gas for the city at a rate of 38 cents per therm, which is better rate than the current rate of 98 cents.
• approved the Long County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, which also includes emergency planning for the city.
• hired Daniel Riles as a full-time police officer and hired Tony Fowler Jr. as a part-time officer pending completion of his training.
• heard a report from Fuller that the general-fund balance is $28,187.90; the water and sewage balance is $116,646.64, the general fund savings is $311,487.65; and there is one outstanding bill for the water and sewage department of $319.8.