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Riceboro budget work slowed by abscence
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Riceboro budget writers didn’t have much luck at their workshop in the absence of Mayor Gregory Richardson and with only incomplete figures to use.
The four council members studied what information was available and expressed the hope more data — and Richardson — would be at the regular council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
One thorny question that went unanswered was selection of a CPA to perform Riceboro’s annual independent audit that is required by state law.
Mayor Pro Tempore Lelia Jones explained to the audience - one Riceboro citizen and a reporter — that while she presided over city council in the absences of Richardson, “I respect the mayor, and the council respects the mayor, and we are not going to take over matters that are for the mayor to handle.”
She said Richardson had been discussing a CPA for the city, but she did not know any details of their discussions.
Riceboro was the subject of several newspaper articles when the audit of its fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005, was not presented until October 2006. It had been due 10 months previously.
State agencies had barred Riceboro from receiving certain grant funds and placed advertisements notifying the public of the delinquent report.
Councilman Henry Relaford said, “Sometimes it makes people mad to get this kind of publicity, but sometimes you have to make them mad to make them do right.”
In the council’s general discussion of budget topics, they decided a hike was probably in order for business licenses and peddlers' licenses. An increase of 10 percent was discussed.
All four council members agreed City Clerk Melinda McIver should have some assistance in city hall, and said they would look for funds to pay for a full-time worker.
The figures available to the council showed a wide variation in charges for solid waste, and the council decided to look into that issue before budgeting a solid waste allocation for next fiscal year.
Council members agreed their volunteer firefighters were doing a good job and decided to ask for a budget request from the department showing what equipment was needed. They will also check with some other communities to see if Riceboro’s per-call payment is similar to other departments.
The council approved the cost of an improved security system for city hall, but said they wanted a positive way of verifying the system was working.
The council plans to continue its support of the Riceboro-Midway Branch Library, and is interested in the progress in moving the branch to the former Liberty Elementary School building.
A survey was ordered to determine if Riceboro has an appropriate number of streetlights and that they are in working order. The council wants the physical inventory to match the billing records from Georgia Power and Coastal Electric.
The price of fuel was a major complaint during the budget workshop, especially as Riceboro has only one source, Parkers. Council members discussed buying a city fuel tank or fueling city vehicles at service stations in Midway, but did not settle on an option.
Tuesday’s council meeting at Riceboro City Hall is open to the public.
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