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Gray’s City Council members prepared for its December monthly business meeting at their November All Committees meeting that followed a short called meeting.

Mayor Ed Barbee opened the Nov. 16 called meeting that had two items on the agenda. He said the first item was a resolution to supplement the 2020 budget to commit funds for the city’s new fire truck. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Barbee explained that the second item was an authorization for a letter of support for Jones County’s efforts to access high quality broadband connectivity for Gray and Jones County.

The motion to authorize the letter of support was unanimous, and it was delivered by Barbee to the Jones County Board of Commissioners at their meeting the following evening.

The called meeting was adjourned, and the mayor called the All Committees meeting to order.

Barbee thanked Gray Police Chief Adam Lowe and Gray Fire Chief Keith Eisele for their help and the help of their departments with the Nov. 14 Veterans Appreciation Day.

Councilman Terrell Fulford, who serves as Gray’s Finance Committee Chairman reported that so far the city has collected $113,000 in 2020 property taxes, which is 11.61 percent.

Fulford said the Downtown Development Authority requested security lights for the event venue Butler Hall. He said the two security lights requested would cost an estimated $120 a month.

The chairman suggested looking further into the number of lights needed prior to vote to approve the request at the Dec. 7 business meeting.

Barbee said he received a letter from the Middle Georgia Regional Committee asking if the city was interested in applying for a Community Development Block Grant in 2021. Councilman Benny Gray said the city did not make application for the grant in 2020 and suggested council look into it.

A discussion followed about the type of grant that was needed, housing or water and sewer. City Clerk Cindy Yancey said the city needs help with replacing water and sewer lines.

Yancey said she sent the water and sewer department budget to assistant superintendent Cheyenne Morgan. Morgan said he felt the bottom line for the water and sewer department would remain the same as last year.

“We just moved funds around to where they are needed,” he said.

Yancey said the Water/ Sewer budget approval would be on the December agenda for approval. She said the city had paid off the loan for the belt press and had one more payment on the water tank. The clerk asked permission, however, to continue transferring the amount of those payments in order to be prepared when the payments for the new wastewater treatment plant begin.

Council members agreed by consensus to continue the transfers.

Gray introduced Jerry Bridges Sr., who wanted to talk to council about the possibility of the city purchasing Cedar Ridge Cemetery.

Bridges said he read about the city’s attempts to drill new water wells and the cemetery had a well on the property. He said the well was drilled in 1986 and would need to be retested.

But he said the well produced enough water to wet down the entire cemetery in one day. Bridges said the cemetery consisted of 10.9 acres with 4.5 acres developed.

Morgan stated that the city using the well for drinking water would be off the table because of its proximity to the cemetery.

In the absence of Mayor Pro Tem James Collins, due to illness, Deputy Clerk Ashley Roberson reported for the Plan Committee. She said Sherri Rollins and Rick Childs had both agreed to another term on the DDA.

Chief Adam Lowe talked about a change needed to the vacation policy for officers. He said the officers work 12-hour shifts but vacation time is computed on 40-hour workweeks.

“An adjustment is needed to coordinate with hours worked,” he said. “I want to make sure they get paid for the hours they are owed.”

Council agreed to put the updated policy on the Dec. 7 agenda for a vote by full council.

Morgan said it was time to start working on the Georgia Department of Transportation Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG) list.

He said the list is due in February. The GDOT amount is $48,129 and with the city’s match the total would be $62,000.

Council members discussed options for the upkeep of the city’s cemetery. Bids were taken for the grass cutting and trimming but it was agreed by consensus that public works employees would take care of it for now.