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Midway moves closer to new city hall
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Midway’s City Council Monday took two more steps toward building a new city hall, a project they hope to complete this year.

Council members had voted electronically to approve agreements with architect L. Scott Barnard and with engineering firm Engineering Design Technologies. Monday evening they formally confirmed those votes.

Midway is planning the new building for a site on city-owned property near the intersection of Islands Highway and Charlie Butler Road. A new city hall for Midway has been a formal goal since 2011.

The council meets in the Midway Police Department building and city offices are in a storefront in Midway Mall. City hall operations were temporarily housed in the former Liberty County Elementary School, but moved out when the county developed that site for a branch library, satellite tax office, Keep Liberty Beautiful office and other community uses.

Graylan Quarterman, a representative of the engineering firm EDT told the council in December that survey work at the site was under way. At the same meeting, Barnard showed preliminary drawings for a new city hall.

Barnard’s drawings show a building with two wings, one for city offices and one for municipal court. Off the entrance lobby is a large room intended for council meetings and municipal court. Farther along are rooms for municipal court operations and staff on the right, and administrative offices for the finance director and water department on the left. A sallyport for the police department is at the end of the police wing and a bill-paying area for the water department is at the end of the administrative wing.

The current Special Local Option Sales Tax is expected to provide about $1 million for construction of a city hall but architectural consultant Judson Bryant told the council in December that even with SPLOST funds a "very, very tight budget" would be needed to construct the building with that budget.

Also Monday, the council expressed informal agreement to refinancing its water/sewer bonds for 17 years. The city will get a lower interest rate when the refinancing is completed. The issue has been on the council’s agenda for two meetings but no representative of Ameris Bank has attended.

Bond attorney Jon Pannell answered questions Monday and at one point said, "Again, you would need to ask the banker, I am the lawyer."

The council will try again at its Feb. 27 work session to formally approve the bond resolution.

Mayor Dr. Clemontine Washington presented what she said was the second reading of a Municode ordinance without specifying an effective date. Municode is a professional service that collects, edits, codifies and makes available ordinances and other local government documents. Four Liberty County municipalities use Municode along with the county itself.

Municode was paid $13,564 last year and $3,000 is budgeted for the service in 2017.

In other business the council accepted recommendations from the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission on seven items.

A temporary sign permit was approved for Leron Auto Detailing at 107 Butler St.

Personal Touch Tax Service was denied permission to use an eight-foot tall banner sign. The banner is too large to conform to sign standards.

Clancy and Family Maintenance was granted a home occupation license for a lawn and maintenance service at 174 John Bacon Road. Mayor Pro Tempore Levern Clancy excluded himself from discussion of this and did not vote.

A home occupational license was granted to Valya Lee for her online sales of sorority paraphernalia, Soror Finds, at 173 River Birch Lane.

A conditional use was approved for Nostalgic Towing to operate a repossession and towing business. An occupational license was also approved. The business was already operating without the conditional use approval.

The LCPC’s Melissa Jones asked the council to adopt a resolution continuing the existing service delivery strategy; this was approved.

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