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Midway may take franchise fee onto electric bills
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Midway will soon begin negotiations with Coastal Electric Membership Corp. for a franchise fee that will be tacked onto the electric bills of customers inside city limits.

Cities in Georgia are entitled to a fee of up to 4 percent of the gross amount of utility bills such as electricity.

EMC officials Whit Hollowell and Mark Bolton attended Midway’s Jan. 31 monthly work session to discuss franchise fees and utility ordinances. Council members decided to vote at their Feb 15 meeting to give Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington authority to negotiate an agreement with Coastal EMC.

Washington asked Hollowell and Bolton how soon payments could begin and whether Midway could receive fees quarterly instead of annually. These topics will be part of the negotiations.

"We will move cautiously," the mayor said.

Approval of the full council will be necessary once terms are agreed upon.

Midway is working to update and correct water agreements between it and the Liberty County Development Authority. Washington said there are several pacts between the two agencies that needed to be reconciled.

"We buy water from them; they buy water from us … We need to have a special meeting to discuss this," she said.

Ebrahim Nadji, a professional engineer with the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission who inspected Arlen Park subdivision, attended the session at the council’s request to answer questions about the subdivision.

Midway has not yet agreed to maintain streets in Arlen Park, but an intergovernmental agreement with Liberty County provided for some street work.

Officials say they have not found a covenant for the subdivision, but some property owners have covenants covering drainage, easements and similar matters.

Nadji said Arlen Park was "in pretty good shape for its age. We don’t have any engineering issues." He told the council there are some issues, such as nonconforming fences, that should be handled by code enforcement.

Washington reviewed progress on the goals the city set for 2010. Several projects have been completed, such as selling surplus or unusable equipment and purchasing mowers, edgers, blowers and other tools for grass and weed cutting.

All city documents are being reviewed and brought into compliance with a records retention policy. City Attorney Richard Braun is studying the city charter for possible revision and update.

A major goal accomplished was increasing water and sewer rates. The long-delayed hike was required to comply with the terms of the USDA grant that funds most of the system.

Midway Police Chief Kelli Morningstar told the council that she received a letter praising one of her officers, Mark Rich. A disabled couple passing through Midway had a flat tire and called for help. They wrote that Rich responded within 15 minutes and changed the tire in heavy traffic. He refused the money they offered and, according to the letter, "his friendly attitude was truly overwhelming. Officer Rich went far beyond what I would ever have expected from anyone."

A planned discussion of probation supervision was delayed due to Councilman Terry Doyle absence. He was ill and unable to attend Monday’s meeting. Doyle was designated by the council to collect information on the handling of probation cases from Midway’s city court. A private firm now supervises probationers, but the city is considering hiring an employee to handle probation in-house.

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