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Proposal: No city debt for Gainesville public servants
New ordinance would affect board, committee members
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Gainesville City Council meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. today
Where: Room A, Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville
More information: Read the agenda

At the end of the month, anyone with debt to the city must pay up before serving on a board or committee.

City Clerk Denise Jordan drafted the ordinance and presented it to council members during Thursday’s work session.

“We just don’t think that reflects well on having board members who owe money and taxes,” Mayor Ruth Bruner said. “In general, the ordinance is a good idea because it sets a better example to be in good standing with the city.”

The ordinance states that anyone with licensing fees, permitting fees, property taxes or utility fees could be stopped from joining a city board, agency, commission or committee.

The directors overseeing these organizations are responsible for monitoring any outstanding debt problems and reporting them to council members. The City Council can then remove the person from that position.

“There have been, in the past, members who didn’t pay all their taxes, so we’re looking at keeping those people from serving on boards until those are paid,” council member George Wangemann said. “It’s a simple idea to make sure everybody’s straight with the city before they start serving on boards.”

The first reading of the ordinance will go before the City Council today, and it will become effective Oct. 31.
“It sets a bad example to owe money, but it’s not a major problem for us,” Bruner said. “Apparently, we learned Thursday, there’s not anybody right now who meets the problem.”

On Thursday, council member Myrtle Figueras also suggested looking into potential members’ ethics before they join a board.

“I’m not sure if this would be another ordinance, but another issue with board members is that we look into people whose decisions could reflect badly on the city,” Figueras said. “We don’t want issues where a person’s decisions could affect the city, whether that’s a conflict of interest or something else. That may fall into our ethics ordinance.”