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Midway council discusses budget changes
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When Midway’s city council meets Nov. 14, it is expected to formally act to move city government operations into the Midway Mall. After an earlier tour of its proposed new quarters in the mall, the council met to consider budget changes and a new peddler-licensing ordinance and to hear complaints from a home-owner.

The city government has had a rent-free stay at the former Midway Elementary School building that Liberty County now owns, but it must move out by the end of the year to allow the county to do asbestos removal in preparation for renovation of the old school’s main building. After considering options including temporary modular buildings, mobile homes and several existing structures, the council ruled out all choices except Midway Mall.

In the October work session, council members agreed to plans to move into suites D6 and D4 in Midway Mall, which now are vacant, Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington said. Midway Mall is on Butler Avenue, the city’s main commercial thoroughfare that includes the post office, the Hinesville Bank and the IGA grocery store. The dropbox where customers can pay water and sewer bills will be relocated to the Butler Avenue parking area, the mayor added.

After the move, council meetings likely will be held in the courtroom of the Midway Police Department on U.S. Highway 84. The police building formerly was Midway’s city hall, and the courtroom was used for council meetings, according to Washington.

Midway is three quarters of the way through its January-December fiscal year, and officials acted at their Oct. 24 work session to update the budget to allow for changing conditions. Midway’s share of general sales and use taxes is exceeding the amount budgeted; the nine-month total is almost $12,000 over the $109,000 budgeted. Midway’s chief financial officer, Gwen Lowe, presented the third-quarter total figures to the council.

On the minus side, Midway’s share of the hotel-motel tax dried up when the Midway Motel was closed after a Sept. 21 fire. Coastal EMC has begun charging Midway customers a utility franchise tax, which will go to the city, but those funds will not be available in the current fiscal year. Mark Bolton with Coastal EMC said Midway could expect payment in February.

Lowe told the council: “You can make adjustments to cover all the negative items.”

One of the adjustments was cutting expenditure items for almost $34,000, the cost projected for Midway to employ a probation officer. The money was budgeted when Midway was considering hiring a probation officer. Since then, the council has decided to continue with its current probation services contractor instead.

Linda Anglin, a resident of the Arlen Oaks subdivision in Midway, told the council that for at least four years “there have been issues with where I live.” She described inadequate drainage at her home, saying, “Every time it rains there are problems with erosion, flooding and other things.”

After a discussion of drainage, easements, property plats, location of utility lines and related matters, Washington suggested that Anglin needed legal advice.

“We are willing to work with you,” Washington said. “The city of Midway is willing to help.”

Midway had placed riprap near Anglin’s home to help control erosion, but “it appears we placed too much riprap, or we placed it too high,” Washington said. “The city is willing to redo the riprap.”

The council continued its ongoing discussion of regulations for transient merchants, peddlers and solicitors. Council members struggled with wording an ordinance that will allow casual and isolated work such as babysitting and newspaper delivery without licensure.  An age limit was discussed, and a draft ordinance proposed not to require licenses for people younger than 16 years old. A limit of 18 years old was agreed upon after Councilman Levern Clancy pointed out that some 18-year-olds still are in high school.

Noise also was a concern for peddlers as the council considered language that would ban loud sounds, shouting, ringing bells, blowing horns and use of amplification devices. Discussion revealed that council members did not want to regulate the ice cream man. After more talk, the council decided to ask its attorney, Richard Braun, for more input and to check with other municipalities to see how they dealt with licensing matters. 

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