In two separate city council meetings Monday, Midway discussed fire protection, decided to crack down on delinquent water customers, allow voters to decide on Sunday alcohol sales, engaged a new city attorney and hired two new employees.
County Administrator Joey Brown gave a brief presentation on countywide fire protection. He said the county commissioners hoped to include a fire fee on the tax bills for 2020 and to do that they must enact the fire fee in 2019. Brown said annual fees for fire protection now being studied would start at $40.
Midway has a volunteer fire department and has not yet decided if they should join in the countywide plan, according to city officials. Midway Mayor Levern Clancy Jr. told the Courier Wednesday afternoon that the city intends to have a town hall to discuss the issue. The city will announce a date for the public discussion once it is scheduled.
Brown said the county would be ending its contract by which it paid Midway for fire protection in the unincorporated area. The protection for the area will be provided by professional county firefighters working out of the Lake George Fire Station.
Brown said the firefighting equipment assigned by the county for Midway’s use would be formally transferred to Midway and that the county will continue to provide maintenance for the firetrucks stationed at Midway. In replies to questions by Midway Mayor Levern Clancy Jr., Brown said the county would make a mutual aid agreement with Midway in which a Midway firefighter on the scene of a fire could call on the county fire department for assistance if needed.
In his monthly report Chief Terrell Chipps of Midway’s volunteer fire department, said, “We need to really get our heads together and figure something out (on fire protection.)”
Customers of Midway’s water system were accustomed to a reminder phone call from city hall if they got behind in paying their water bills, but those calls will no longer be made. In accord with the city ordinance and the message printed on the bills, water users are expected to pay by the due date and no other notice will be given.
In the discussion of water bills, it was revealed that businesses were not cut off for delinquent payments as were individual water customers. Ursula Lee, supervisor of Midway’s utility department, said, “That was a long-standing policy when I came.” Lee was hired by Midway in April 2017. The special treatment for business customers will stop, along with the reminder phone calls.
The council voted unanimously to allow voters to decide if they want to allow beer, wine and liquor to be sold on Sundays in Midway. The question will be on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election.
Reginald Martin, a Hinesville lawyer, was appointed Midway’s city attorney. The city had been without an attorney since January. Martin is a former assistant district attorney and holds degrees from Morehouse College, Columbia and Loyola.
The council also hired Mira Frazier as a police officer and Angelina Hunter as a part time administrative clerk.
Midway’s court clerk, Donna Davis, reported that the income from fines collected by the city’s private probation company was down dramatically. “Some months we have received less than $1,000; that’s hardly a drop in the bucket compared to what we should be getting.”
Davis said the probation company gets $44 from probationers’ payments for fines and costs. She said many could only afford to make small payments; she cited as an example a probationer who is able to pay $45. “The company gets $44 and we get a dollar.”
Officials said they would investigate the problem; some councilmembers said recent changes in the law might help improve the administration of probation.
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