PIEDMONT – The Piedmont City Council held a productive meeting Tuesday evening, which included the passing of a 10-percent garbage pickup rate increase across the board for residential, commercial and dumpster customers.
The rate increase will go toward the city’s purchase of a brand new garbage truck from Ingram Equipment Company to replace an older, damaged model in operation since 2010 that is now out of commission. The cost of the new truck is $172,550.68 with a five-year warranty.
After City Projects Manager Carl Hinton presented the council its best options, a lengthy discussion was held on how to pay for the new truck. The council ultimately decided the 10 percent rate increase across the board was the right decision.
“Ten percent gives each residential (bill) $1.60 more, and it’s the same fairness for commercial businesses,” District 3 Councilman Jubal Feazell said.
“Nobody wants to see an increase (on their bill), but I don’t know if we have much of a choice,” Mayor Bill Baker said. “I think if we’re going to provide the service, we’ve got to pay for it. We haven’t had any type of (rate) increase since 2004, 2006.”
The council also heard presentations from Piedmont Commercial Development Authority Chairman Lane Weatherby regarding new businesses and Jacksonville Arts Council spokesman Terry Batey regarding downtown activities in Piedmont.
Weatherby highlighted in his report that Industrial Resin Recycling, located at 201 5th Avenue North, will be opening its new operation on Monday and will employ 40 people. He also said the new Burger King might not be ready to open by Feb. 10, but should be opening soon thereafter.
“Within a month or six weeks, we’re going to have 85 new jobs in Piedmont,” Weatherby said.
In relation to the new Burger King, the city has agreed to accept an offer from Farmers and Merchants Bank to take over ownership of a service road behind the MAPCO service station, near the new restaurant’s location along Highway 278. The Calhoun County Commission has agreed to accept the cost of paving that road with no cost to the city.
Batey’s presentation involved starting a similar organization to the Jacksonville Arts Council in Piedmont.
“This is my third year with Jacksonville Arts Community, and they do some pretty good things for the council and the City of Jacksonville,” Batey said. “If you’ve rode through and seen anything going on in the Square, most of the time it’s got to do with the Jacksonville Arts Council.
“What I’m coming in here to pitch is I would love to create a committee, a council, a membership, working for you guys, all volunteer. All I want to do is give back to the community. We’d like to do family-friendly events in downtown Piedmont. We’d like to work with the downtown area, start there first and see what we can do, see how this is going to work.”
Feazell made a motion to establish a Piedmont Arts and Entertainment committee, with Batey as the chairman. The motion was passed unanimously.
“I think we all feel the need and excitement and the willingness on your part with the committee to make some good things happen,” Baker told Batey. “We want to see things in Piedmont, and I think you’re headed in the right direction with this. I think we all feel fully committed to working with you to make this happen, and you working with us to get what you need to see that this becomes a reality.”
The council also approved the reappointment of Randy Morgan to a four-year term on the Piedmont Parks and Recreation Board. The council will look at filling another vacancy on that board at its next meeting.
A motion was also passed to have the city’s electrical department to repair and upgrade broken lights to LEDs for a pole at the sports complex.
Minutes of the previous council meeting were approved, as were bills for payment totaling $578,719.45.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 16.
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