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Sylacauga City Council reacts to police shortage; delays fire chief appointment


SYLACAUGA, Ala.- The Sylacauga City Council had an action-packed Tuesday night, and most of that action took place before the City Council session. In a work session prior to the official meeting the council discussed many topics important to city business.

In the work session, Council President Lee Perryman told council members candidates for the fire chief opening may not meet all of the requirements for a fire chief in a municipality such as Sylacauga. He said the city would check to see how lenient it can be with the requirements before appointing a new chief.

Garbage pick-up was also a main talking point in the work session. Perryman said Sylacauga is one of the only municipalities that receives multiple trash pick-ups per week. In order to save money, Perryman proposed a once-per-week trash pick-up which would save the city $27,000 per month and more than $300,000 per year. He said his goal is to save city money on current expenses in order to fund future projects as opposed to raising sales tax which he called “cowardly.”

A police officer shortage was brought to the council’s attention by Police Chief Kelley Johnson in the work session. Johnson told the council two officers recently left for the Talladega County Sheriff’s Department. He said many officers are working overtime and his unit has used nearly 70% of its yearly overtime budget. Johnson also noted the dangers of police working long hours and multiple shifts. He said officers become reactive instead of proactive which is the wrong way to police.

At this time there is no candidate list for the open positions and Johnson asked the city to get a candidate roster set as soon as possible. “We want to get a list set as soon as possible,” he said. “We don’t need to wait eight to twelve months for us to be able to hire an officer.” Officers leaving for other opportunities has been a problem. Perryman said the council needs to work on ways to make Sylacauga police officer’s pay more competitive when compared to surrounding agencies.

During the work session, the council also discussed the status of an operating agreement between the Sylacauga Airport Authority and the city. The airport authority was established in 2014 but has yet to execute paperwork related to operating the city-owned airport. Further discussion will be held with the board at its Thursday evening meeting.

The official council meeting lasted longer than usual. The meeting was opened with a report from Mayor Jim Heigl. In his report, he announced Indian Valley Elementary School is accepting applications for the 2017-18 school year. Following the mayor’s report, the council held a public hearing for the rezoning of city-owned property on US Hwy. 280 to a B-2 General Business District in order to accommodate a retail development on the site. After no comments were made the hearing was closed, and the council unanimously voted to re-zone the property to B-2.

Two public hearings were set during the council session. A hearing for conducting close-out proceedings for the East Highland Demolition Project has been set for March 21 at 6:00 p.m., and a hearing for the annexation and zoning of four separate properties was set for April 18 at 6:00 p.m.

Other items discussed and approved:

  • Approval of resolution requesting that the state not pass any laws limiting the amount which cities may use to calculate municipal business licenses.
  • Approval of the Airport Operating Agreement as recommended by Mayor Heigl and the City Attorney.
  • Authorized educational incentive pay increase for Administrative Assistant Kim Morris.
  • Approved requests for a refund of over-payment on 2017 business license fee for Express Oil Change and NCR Corp.
  • Appointment of Vinton Crawford and Robert Buyher to the Board of Adjustment and Appeal.
  • Appointment of Kay Jennings to the Sylacauga Airport Authority.
  • Approval of travel/expenses for Utilities Inspector Mike Whetstone to attend the International Mechanical Code and International Fuel ad Gas Code Training.
  • Approval of travel/expenses for Municipal Court Magistrates Wendy Mickler and Melanie Bice to attend the Regional Seminar for Municipal Court Officials in Birmingham.
  • Approval of travel/expenses for Administrative/Finance employees Sandy Sorensen and Kristi Thompson to attend the Alabama Municipal Revenue Certification Training to be held in Tuscaloosa.
  • Approval of travel/expenses of HR Specialist Jayne McGee to attend the AAPPA Risk Management Basic Training Course in Auburn.
  • Authorization of payments totaling $62,511.26 for accounts payable invoices received to date for February 2017.

Jeremy Law for | © 2017, City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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