Audit Reveals Healthy Finances for City

City of SylvesterThe Sylvester City Council held their work session for the month of February last Monday evening. The meeting began with Pastor Judy Hall addressing the council on the needs of Family Visions. The local ministry supplies food to families in need. Hall stated that the group receives little in terms of monetary and food donations, and she asked the council to consider providing monetary support that would be used strictly for purchasing food.
Next, Mr. Webby Hill addressed the council concerning a fence on Hobson Street. Hill recalled that when the church was built, the council agreed to close the street to provide additional parking for church goers. However, they stipulated that no structure could be built that would block the street. Now, Hill says a neighboring property owner has built a fence down the middle of the street. He asked the council to have the fence removed.
Mayor Bill Yearta responded that the council will look into the matter and get the attorney’s opinion before making a decision.
Moving along with the agenda, the council heard from a representative about the possibility of replacing the electricity and water meters in the city, as well as retrofitting all of the gas meters. The estimated cost for the water and electric meters including installation and customer support will be approximately $25,000 per month or $4.2 million for a 10 year contract. That equates to approximately $5.50 per meter, per month. The council agreed to consider approving the contract as there are a number of advantages and cost saving measures associated with the new electronic meters. The matter will likely be further discussed at the regular meeting later this month.
Next, John Nesmith from Hudson and Nesmith discussed an audit review with the council. After explaining how the audit was conducted and what the auditors were looking for, Nesmith reported that nothing of major concern was found during the process. Additionally, the accountant explained that the city’s “rainy day fund” is currently at 2.8 months. He would like to see the city achieve three months, but he also said this was nothing to be concerned about because the city could still function without income for close to three months as it stands.
After hearing from the accountant, Eric Hatcher, owner of Harvest Studios in Sylvester spoke to the council concerning the proposed local access T.V. station. With all of the necessary equipment, experience, and professionalism required to produce quality programming, Hatcher asked if the city would be interested in partnering with his business to provide content for the station.
Next, members of the downtown development authority addressed the council to state that new “special events” could be added to the calendar for downtown Sylvester this year. However, they also want to get feedback from businesses concerning increased sales when special events are held in Sylvester. The also mentioned the façade program and Great Sylvester Cleanup as means to beautify the downtown area. Through the facade program, the DDA will match up to $500 for any downtown business that wishes to improve the exterior of their store fronts.
Mayor Bill Yearta congratulated the DDA on achieving status as a Main Street City and thanked the members for their hard work and dedication. “Y’all have done a great job on special events,” the mayor stated. “Y’all do a lot of hard work, and we appreciate all you do… I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”
Following a brief intermission, as the meeting had already lasted nearly two hours, Lieutenant Tracy Jones with the Sylvester Police Department addressed the council once again on implementing body cameras for Sylvester officers. Concerning the operating policy for the cameras, Attorney Coleman stated that the document looked good aside from some minor editing. The policy will be cleaned up and presented to the council soon for approval.
And, the council discussed the Safe Kids Program. Chief Jack Colby of the Sylvester Fire Department stated that he would like to see the program grow this year through partnerships with SPD, the sheriff’s office, the health department, county fire, and EMS, so that each aspect of the program is dealt with by specialized agencies within the community. According to the chief, the fire department will facilitate the various training events and bring the other agencies in to participate.
Moving along with the agenda, the council discussed the City of Sylvester Exchange Server and the fiber system maintenance agreement. City Manager Debbie Bridges stated that the city’s server is dying, and it will happen soon or later. Mrs. Bridges recommended the best of three proposals at just under $25,000.
Before adjourning, the council also discussed the county’s increased landfill costs and lots on Jefferson Street. These issues were likely discussed at Monday’s regular monthly meeting for February. The Sylvester Local will provide information on Monday’s meeting in next week’s issue.

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