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The Local Agenda: Gainesville City Council to review new charter

POSTED: December 16, 2013 11:33 p.m.

Gainesville City Council is scheduled for a special work session at 11 a.m. Thursday to review the city’s new charter. 

The council requested the review given the new elected mayor position, which will be an addition to the five council seats. 

Voters approved the role in a 2009 referendum, and Danny Dunagan was elected to the job in November. Dunagan previously served as Ward 1 council member and mayor, which has been a job rotated every two years among the council members.

The mayor, unlike in the past, will not vote on issues unless there is a tie or a fourth “yes” is needed for approval.

The position carries a four-year term and likely a base pay of $500 per month, an expense allowance of $100 per month and per diem of $125 per meeting up to 10 meetings per month. Council members receive a base pay of $400 per month, an expense allowance of $75 per month and the same per diem as the mayor.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, which provides education and other assistance to public officials, will conduct the charter review.

The meeting will be in Room 301 at the Administration Building, 300 Henry Ward Way, Gainesville.

Gainesville council expected to adopt open records policy

Gainesville City Council is expected to approve an open records policy at its meeting at 5:30 tonight.

State law allows the public access to a variety of documents such as police incident reports and lease agreements for government property.

The policy outlines how records must be requested and those requests met. Requests must be submitted to the designated records specialist, but the absence of the records specialist cannot delay requests; the office coordinator for the city manager’s office would serve in the role if necessary.

Requests cannot be prepared by the records specialist, and those submitted cannot be so broad that city staff cannot determine exactly which records are being requested.

The city is not required to prepare new reports as the result of an open records request. It also will not accept “perpetual requests” or those that ask for “supplementation in the event additional records are created in the future.”

Responses to open record requests must be made in three days. Gainesville does not count the business day that the request was made but starts the count on the next day.

The government can charge an hourly rate to produce the documents based on the prorated salary of the lowest-paid staff member qualified to meet the request.

Anyone interested in filing an open records request should visit www.gainesville.org/request-for-records for instructions. 

The city is set to OK other items as well, including giving the final approval needed for the Gainesville-Hall ’96 Lake Lanier Olympic Venue service and lease agreements. The council meets in the Municipal Court Room at the Public Safety Complex, 701 Queen City Parkway, Gainesville.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners signed off on the agreement at its Thursday meeting. In November, the foundation approved the agreements with both the city and Hall County for the venue at 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville. 

Gainesville and Hall recently agreed to invest more in the venue, each giving $150,000 to the foundation to manage and upgrade the facility, according to the service contract. 

Flowery Branch Police Department looking at license plate reader

A license plate reader could be coming to the Flowery Branch Police Department.

The technology scans license plates using character recognition software and alerts police if there is a reason the owner needs to be pulled over, from expired tags to felony warrants. 

The Gainesville Police Department received a plate reader in December 2012, purchased for $19,050. Braselton also has the technology.

Flowery Branch Police Chief David Spillers will present the request at Thursday’s Flowery Branch Town Council meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 5517 Main St., Flowery Branch.

Mayor Mike Miller requested further investigation into the purchase — including cost — during last month’s meeting.

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