SF addresses code enforcement
Posted: Friday, April 17, 2009 9:28 pm
By CHRIS MENEES
Messenger Staff Reporter
The ongoing issue of code enforcement in South Fulton has not been forgotten, according to the community’s city manager.
South Fulton city manager Jeff Vowell informed the South Fulton City Commission at its session Thursday evening that the city employee chosen to work as a code enforcement officer will be attending training next month.
He specified the training the employee will attend May 4-8 is for residential code enforcement rather than the more in-depth business code enforcement training.
Vowell also said he stands by his belief that city officials need to look at modifying South Fulton’s property maintenance codes. He emphasized the issue has not been “swept under the table” and said he is continuing to work on it.
South Fulton Vice Mayor Keith Curlin, who presided over the commission meeting in the absence of Mayor David Crocker, had earlier said he would like to see code enforcement “not swept under the rug” and would like to see city officials make an effort to deal with the issue. He said he appreciates residents who are working with the city to resolve problems and appreciates everyone’s understanding.
At the start of Thursday’s meeting, commissioners had heard from two Covington Avenue residents who shared concerns about alleged violations in their neighborhood, as well as from an alleged violator who said he has fully cooperated in remedying all of the problems mentioned.
Mark Vaughn, who has attended the last two commission meetings to discuss code enforcement issues and alleged ongoing property maintenance violations, said the city’s Web site indicates the city manager has the duty of enforcing city codes. He said he believes the existing laws have “plenty of teeth” as they are written but he thinks enforcement is the problem.
Vaughn said he recently provided every commissioner with a packet noting specific problems and said he would like to have it explained either why the code is not being enforced or why the problems aren’t code violations.
No specific action was taken by the commission Thursday evening.
On a related note, Vowell announced the city’s annual spring cleanup has been set for May 11-15. Residents who need items picked up are asked to call South Fulton City Hall or the city’s public works department.
In other action during Thursday evening’s meeting, which was opened with prayer led by commissioner Tony Perry and with the Pledge of Allegiance, the commission:
• Granted permission for Vowell to proceed with applying for a COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grant through the U.S. Department of Justice.
Vowell said the grant would provide funding to cover the cost of hiring an additional police officer for three years, after which time the city would be required to retain the officer at city expense for at least a year. He said since the funding is provided through a community policing program, the city would need to revitalize its Citizens Police Academy and Youth Citizens Police Academy programs.
Vowell said the city should hear something in regard to funding by Sept. 1 and said the decision to apply for the funding is “a no-brainer” since it would greatly benefit the city. He expressed appreciation to commissioner Charles Moody for mentioning the grant possibility. Moody said he had read a recent newspaper article regarding another city’s making application for a COPS grant and thought South Fulton might be able to do the same, adding he felt another officer might be needed since the city had annexed some property.
• Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance to set the spending limit for the city manager.
According to the ordinance, the city manager cannot spend more than $5,000 on any single purchase without the prior consent of the city commission. The ordinance further specifically outlines the city manager’s purchasing authority, including the bidding process when required, and makes exceptions for emergencies.
• Heard concerns from resident Phil Stone regarding a problem with the natural gas bill for a commercial building where he and his wife formerly operated their beauty salon. Vowell said he is working to ascertain whether the problem with the reading of the meter and the billing for Stone’s building is an isolated problem or a much larger problem.
• Was informed by Vowell that he has hedged an additional 20 percent natural gas for next year, with a total of 40 percent now hedged at a certain rate. He said he is optimistic and it appears everything is “shaping up well” for a natural gas rate reduction next year for the city’s residents, adding he is still on pace to hedge 70 to 75 percent.
• Received a brief update from Vowell regarding a memorandum he received from Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire about the options for countywide fire protection, which has been heavily discussed by the county’s fire chiefs and the county commission in recent months.
Vowell said the options include a subscription service, which South Fulton currently offers for its rural fire service customers, or a fire fee that would be charged to county residents. He said there are still many details to be worked out and said he simply wanted to inform city commissioners since county officials may be approaching them with a proposal.
• Learned open enrollment is currently under way for the city’s budget billing program, which was implemented last year for the payment of utilities.
Thursday evening’s regular commission meeting was preceded by a very brief beer board meeting convened for the purpose of officially appointing a chairman. Curlin was selected as chairman of the beer board by his fellow commissioners.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 4.17.09