Midway City Council began working on a budget Monday for 2017; one big ticket item is $1 million for a new Midway City Hall.
The council has been using the Midway Police Department for its meetings while city offices are temporarily housed in a storefront in the Midway Mall. The police building was once used as city hall, but Midway outgrew it and the aging building has structural problems.
Midway had temporary use of the old Liberty County Elementary School building on Highway 84, but Liberty County has since developed that into an East Liberty complex that now includes facilities like the Live Oak Public Library’s Midway-Riceboro branch and a satellite tax commissioner office.
The new city hall is planned for land Midway owns at the intersection of U.S. Highway 84 and Charlie Butler Road near the Cay Creek Wetlands Interpretive Center. A new city hall was a top priority when the council set specific goals in 2011.
The council is also considering a $333,000 line item for a new well to draw water from the Upper Floridan aquifer. Midway has one well to provide drinking water; officials say the city should have an alternate source for water.
A sewer extension along Charlie Butler Road is tentaively budgeted for $106,000. A subdivision is being developed along the road and officials are in discussions about annexation and provision of services there.
Terrell Chipp, Midway’s utilities chief, is asking for about $25,000 for a large diesel pump that he said would keep the sewage flowing during power failures. Midway had to borrow a generator during the power outage caused by Hurricane Matthew.
Chipp is also asking for 3,000 feet of waterline and four fire hydrants to improve fire protection along Butler Avenue, the main street of Midway’s business district.
While planning the 2017 budget, Midway officials will consider a two percent pay hike for police and increases for the city clerk, the finance director and others.
A new water supervisor position is being considered with a salary of $42,000 and Midway Police Chief Kelli Morningstar is asking for an additional police officer and car.
Midway Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington said the new water supervisor is needed because, “We need to start getting departmentalized.”
A new police officer will provide better public safety coverage and reduce the amount of overtime in the police department, she said.
On the revenue side of the budget, Finance Director Gwen Lowe told the council that fine and forfeiture income from the police department was down dramatically and that income from the city’s contracted private probation company was down. The company, Lowe said, takes their fee off the top when probationers make payments.
The next public hearing on Midway’s budget will be at 9 a.m., Nov. 28 at the police department.
In other business, the council voted to begin negotiations with L. Scott Barnard, a Savannah architect, for Midway’s new city hall project.
Barnard was selected by the City of Midway Municipal Facilities Steering Committee.
Midway decided to auction a utility truck, a police car and a first responder truck rather than sell them online. After questioning the change, Councilwoman Melice Gerace voted against it. The auction was approved by a 3-1 vote.
The city’s 1937 Henry Ford fire truck will be transferred to a historical group in Richmond Hill.
The mayor said she is waiting for information from the city attorney to handle the vehicle transfer properly.