The Douglasville City Council unanimously voted at Monday night's regular voting meeting to amend the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget in order to keep every council member under their travel and training budgets.
Ward 3, Post 2 Councilman Sam Davis would have gone over his $7,000 travel and training budget by $2,293 if he took the trip to the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) annual convention in Savannah in June.
Davis, the Education and Training Committee Chairman, previously told the Sentinel that his projected overages were a result of his strong desire to learn and gain more training as an elected official.
"You have to learn," Davis said after Thursday night's legislative work session. "I encourage all of the elected officials, some choose to go and some don't, but if you want to be a good student, you must go and be educated."
Since Davis hasn't taken the trip yet, the council was able to amend the budget in time to keep him under.
Mayor Rochelle Robinson, Councilman Terry Miller and Councilman Mark Adams agreed to split any potential overages to cover Davis, Finance Director Karin Callan said.
"Since Councilman Davis is the Education and Training Chair, he is always on the vanguard and the forefront of taking all of the trainings that are offered to boost up his resume and be fully educated on what this council may need to move forward," Robinson said during the regular meeting.
The amendment approved on Monday night allows Davis to stay budget because of the city's former method of using the funds, Adams said. This is the first fiscal year that the city's travel and training funds are being divided up among the mayor and each council member as opposed to everyone acquiring money from the same amount of funds. During the regular meeting, Adams said that he hopes the council won't have to revisit adjusting the budget to accommodate a council member again in the future.
If Douglasville was still using the former method, then even if every council member attended the GMA convention, the council as a whole would still be 33 percent below the travel and training budget line, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Segal said.
Later in Monday's regular meeting, two items were approved to move forward with the curb and gutter project on Highway 92 in a split vote. With Davis leaving the ballroom during discussion before the vote because he has a conflict of interest as owner of a barber shop in the affected area, Robinson had to cast the deciding vote in favor of items with the council split at 3-3. Councilmen Terry Miller, Segal, and Councilwoman LaShun Burr Danley voted to move forward with the project, while Adams, Chris Watts, and Mike Miller voted against the items.
The curb and gutter on the west side of Dallas Highway from Strickland Street to Brown Road could be renovated if the project is completed.
Multiple community members and business owners on Highway 92 spoke at the meeting on why they wanted curb and gutter in the area. Property owner Homer Danley said a few years ago he asked Community and Downtown Services Manager Patrice Williams for grants to make improvements to homes and specific areas on the north side of the city.
"Curb and gutter would be very important to this development," Homer Danley said during the meeting. "It's a street that you have a lot of homeowners on. When you don't have curb and gutter, it has that constant wash, it's a 'hilly' area. So I think it's very important to have that included."
All council members who voted against the items said that they believe it's premature to pursue work on a street that the city is going to own in a few years.
"First of all, to all of those who have come and made a comment, I'm not in any way against installing curb and gutter," Adams said. "The cost study that would be done [for this project] would be based on what is required today as it is a part of the state highway system. More than likely we will not be doing the work. I would hope as a responsible representative of our city, we would not approve to do the work, knowing that when it becomes a city street in two-to-three years, all of those requirements are going to be different."
Councilwoman Danley responded to Adams that she was ready to move forward with curb and gutter as soon as possible.
"It has taken 42 years, if not more for the bypass to come," Councilwoman Danley said. "I would just like for the mayor and council to consider completing the engineering process to look at it. So whether we do it now or later, the engineering process needs to be done. I think we owe that to the residents and business owners."
On casting the deciding vote, Robinson said she wanted to vote the way the community wanted her to vote during the meeting.
"I want all of the streets in the city of Douglasville to look nice," Robinson said. "If we could have sidewalks everywhere, curb and gutter everywhere, that would be my desire, because I want people to walk and be healthier. I want things to look nice, that's one of my initiatives is beautification."
Open containers were also approved during Monday night's regular meeting for St. Patrick's Day weekend at the Irish Bred Pub on March 16 and 17. The establishment was ordered to hire three officers to patrol the event. The community festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on both days.
During the Other Business portion of the meeting, Robinson said that she received an email from Parks and Recreation Director Travis Landrum that informed her that two fields at city parks were vandalized last week. Someone drove on the fields at Hunter Park and Jessie Davis Park, leaving donut marks on the fields. Steps to lock up the fields and adding zoning patrol officers are going to be done to prevent such acts in the future.