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Riceboro: Who’s in charge of city?
Riceboro City hall
Riceboro city hall

During the Oct. 5, City of Riceboro Council meeting the public and one Councilwoman asked for clarification of who is currently in charge of City business. This was the first meeting held after the sudden death of Mayor Joseph Harris who died on Sept. 21. Councilwoman Louise Brown began the discussion prior to public participation.

“Who is in charge?” she asked. “Councilmembers? Or Mayor Pro-Tem?”

“Because I, a Councilmember scheduled a Council meeting for tomorrow for moving forward and you cancelled it, “Brown said to Councilman John Young.

Young responded saying they can’t hold a Council meeting to discuss the process of moving forward regarding the death of Harris without their City Attorney present. According to Councilmembers, City Attorney John Pirkle is recovering from a medical issue and would be out for some time. Brown said she spoke directly with Mayor Pro-Tem Pearlie Axsom in scheduling the meeting and was prepared to cancel the meeting if their attorney was unavailable.

“You cancelled the meeting,” Brown said to Young. “Not only did you cancel the meeting, you didn’t even let me know.”

Young said he informed Mayor Pro-Tem that the City Attorney needed to be present for any discussion on how to proceed on the matter, so they don’t accidently violate the City Charter.

Brown said she read the Charter and understands the process but Young handled the matter incorrectly.

“You, Mr. Young took it upon yourself to cancel the meeting and not even let me know,” Brown said.

After a little back-and-forth Axsom opened the meeting to public participation where the topic was further discussed.

A gentleman, who did not give his name, addressed the Council saying the Council is in charge according to the City charter and that the direction is clearly pointed out in the Charter under the heading of Mayor’s unexpired term. The City Charter states: Sec. 2.12. - Vacancy; filling of vacancies; suspensions. a) The office of mayor or councilmember shall become vacant upon the incumbent’s death, resignation, forfeiture of office, or removal from office in any manner authorized by this Charter or the general laws of the State of Georgia. A vacancy in the office of mayor or councilmember shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term, if any, as provided for in this Charter. b) Upon the suspension from office of mayor or councilmember in any manner authorized by the general laws of the State of Georgia, the city council or those remaining shall appoint a successor for the duration of the suspension. If the suspension becomes permanent, then the office shall become vacant and shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term, if any, as provided for in this Charter.

Axsom reported that Keep Liberty Beautiful is having a county-wide cleanup Oct. 21. She said anyone who wanted to volunteer could check with her. She said they are also collecting old tires on Oct. 23, at the recycle station at the intersection of West Oglethorpe Highway and Frasier Drive. For more information on the county-wide cleaning or the tire collection call folks can call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 912-880-4888.

The City has approved their software upgrade for its online payment system from express bill pay with next bill pay which will be more efficient for City operations.

The City ended its waste collection contract with Republic and will start using Atlantic. Republic wanted to raise their fees, so they accepted bids for a new waste service which was awarded to Atlantic.

There will be an increase in fees collected from the residents. The current fee is $6.50 per month per trash receptacle. The new fee is $11.10 effective Nov. 2, 2021. The new trash collection day will be Wednesdays and new trash receptacles will be issued by Atlantic starting Nov. 1. The new contract with Atlantic is for three years.

The Council approved the renewal agreement with the Liberty County Recreation Department for the Riceboro Youth Center.

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