2006-08-17 / Front Page

Anna Norman submits resignation; council keeps city taxes from rising

By KIP BURKE

NORMAN NORMAN A seat has opened up at the Washington City Council, and the council voted to lower the millage rate for city taxes at Monday night's regular August meeting.

Although she was not able to do so in person, Councilman Anna Norman submitted her resignation as expected. City Clerk Debbie Danner told the Council that Norman's term expires in December 2007, and that a special election was required to fill the District 2 seat on the council for that term.

State law requires that the special election be on September 19, she said, and also proposed that Judge Jim Burton be appointed election supervisor and manager. The council approved.

The council also approved qualifying for the special election be set for August 28 and 29 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and August 30 from 9 a.m.

to noon. The

NORMAN

qualifying fee was set at $108.

The city also acted to advertise hearings on a proposal to lower the millage rate for city taxes. After receiving all the tax digest information from the county tax commissioner, Danner said, and following the council's strong desire not to raise taxes, she has computed a millage rate of 9.668 required to keep tax revenues level.

Hearings for the new lower rate would be held on Friday, September 1 at 9 a.m., and the council gave Danner approval to advertise the hearing.

In other action, the council approved a request from UGA student filmmaker Patrick Franklin to film part of a movie in an unused part of Resthaven Cemetery. The low-budget film production would only need two days in Washington, and Franklin said that he was very aware that the cemetery was a very sensitive place. The production would use fake gravestones in an unused part of the cemetery, with the real cemetery as background. Approval was granted provided concerns about some "colorful language" used in the script could be worked out.

Mary Willis Library Chairman Betty Slaton introduced Lily Crowe, the new director of the Mary Willis Library and Director of the Bartram Trail Regional Library.

New Director of Tourism Ashley Turner introduced herself to the council meeting. She told the council and audience about the new initiatives that she was working on with the Chamber of Commerce. She has prepared ads to run in regional magazines to attract visitors to both attend the two-day Mule Day and to shop and stay in Washington.

Turner is also set to attend the Celebrate Rural Georgia convention in Augusta next week, where she expects to meet and network with top-level state and regional tourism officials.

Other tourism initiatives include a new Washington-Wilkes visitor brochure and a greatly improved web site, Turner said.

In other action, the council voted to participate in the MEAG expansion of the Vogtle Nuclear power plant. The city's money, not to exceed $500,000, would remain in trust, earning 11.25 percent, and the participation would have no impact on electric rates.

And finally, council member Nathaniel Cullars Sr. requested an executive session for personnel. Although Cullars and council member Maceo Mahoney voted for the request, three council members voted against it, saying that they did not know of the reason for the session, and Cullars was unable to tell them in open session.

Mayor Burns told Cullars that to get a request for an executive session passed, Cullars needed to meet in advance with the mayor and City Attorney Barry Fleming and discuss the nature of the personnel matter. Georgia's open meeting law requires that executive sessions only be approved for specific reasons, so council members needed to know that the reason for the meeting was a legal one.

In a called meeting last Wednesday morning, the council heard a report on the renovation and expansion of the Edward B. Pope Community Center. The council voted to go ahead with the project as expected.

The next regular meeting of the Washington Mayor and City Council will be held on September 11 at the Pope Community Center beginning at 7 p.m.

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