Lula utility customers will not be charged late fees for the month of November.

During a meeting held Monday night, city manager Dennis Bergin said each month the city has to take utility bills to the Gainesville post office facility to be distributed to Athens and then sent back to Lula.

Bergin said he followed the same procedure as always, but this month the city has received complaints from numerous customers that bills were not received or that bills were received later than normal.

According to a Lula Post office employee, the Lula facility has been receiving several of the bills back with “unable to forward” stamped on the notices. Since there was an undetermined issue that was outside the control of the city, Bergin said customers paying their utility after the due date will not be charged a late fee during this month.

MAIN STREET DIRECTOR

The council is considering the possibility of hiring a Main Street Director. The position would be responsible for coordinating depot events, and would work closely with the city business association and the development authority. Bergin said the council has budgeted $30,000 for an events coordinator to oversee the newly-renovated depot, but said it was possible for the city to benefit by restructuring the position to assist in other city sponsored community-based organizations. The council is also currently reviewing a proposed rental agreement, including rental fees for the depot.

Kim Johnson, owner of At The Tracks restaurant, recommended the council contract with one entity to serve alcohol at the depot.

“What that does for the city is it takes the liability off the city and it goes directly onto the entity in charge of alcohol,” said Johnson. “I also believe if you have a certain amount of people there, you should have a uniformed off duty officer, paid for by the people renting the facility.”

Johnson further suggested the person serving the alcohol should be licensed through the city of Lula. Rooster Johnson, owner of Amanda’s Farm to Fork restaurant, suggested the council should also consider contracting with someone holding a pouring license through the county to serve alcohol during events instead of limiting the permission to those pourers licensed within the city.

Bergin noted the council is looking into all opportunities to determine what will work best for the city.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the council,

•discussed the possibility of moving to a consent agenda during future meetings. With a consent-item based agenda, the council is permitted to approve a number of items with one vote, which, according to Mayor Jim Grier, will allow extra time to discuss items that may need additional attention.

•received an update from Bergin regarding renewal of employee health insurance coverage. Coverage is currently provided through Blue Cross-Blue Shield, and according to Bergin, it appears the city may eventually have to provide individual coverage for employees. Bergin said the coverage is basically Obama Care and the employees will not be receiving the same level of service provided by Blue Cross-Blue Shield. “It is certainly a quandary,” Mayor Grier said. “We hate to see our employees out of network with our closest hospital and doctor groups.”

•learned the city has received a quote from the engineering firm of Rindt – McDuff to design a retaining wall at property the city proposes to develop for parking along Athens Street. Engineering fees are estimated to cost a total of $15,854.

•discussed that notices have been posted in the local newspaper and adjoining property owners have been informed of a request from Amanda Browning for a conditional use permit and a setback variance for a special event structure on property zoned for agriculture use at the corner of Julian Baugh Road and Lula Road. A public hearing will be held prior to the November 18 council meeting at which time the council will be voting on the request.

•discussed that the Lula Ladies Gathering for November will be held Thursday November 21.

•learned that the Christmas in the Park will be held on December 7 from 4 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

•discussed that the city was recently awarded the business beautification award for the month of November by the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce for improvements made at the train depot.

The council met in closed session to discuss property acquisition. No action was taken.

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