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Money talks at council meeting in regards to energy, future

Yesterday’s Athens City Council meeting brought to light Council’s compromises regarding energy contracts, residential unease over green space and worries for the city’s financial future.

Despite a seemingly positive presentation from City Auditor Kathy Hecht, the city is keeping a close eye on its 2012 projected 3 percent reduction in revenue because of anticipated negative effects of the state’s centralized income tax collection.

Hecht presented her revenue report for 2011, which states the city’s revenue is comfortably stable for this point in the fiscal year and could slightly rise in the coming weeks due to October’s tax extensions.

“We must reach a compromise on this issue,” Hecht said. “This just can’t happen.”

An ordinance to donate two lots on Alexander Street to Habitat for Humanity to build a single-family, energy efficient house has built up more controversy than anticipated, with concerns over preserving the city’s green space voiced during the ordinance’s proposal.

Christine Hughes, owner of Village Bakery & Café which is located near the lots, acknowledged other avenues that could be taken to build or refurbish existing property in Athens instead of building something completely new.

“Just because the land isn’t used doesn’t mean that it isn’t enjoyed,” Hughes said.

Additionally, council introduced changes to city sign regulations to put limits on the area of placement and time limits of standing rental signs around the city.

“The change in the regulations will add uniformity to the process and address a series of complaints regarding rental signs in yards,” Councilman Kent Butler said.

A public hearing will be held Monday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. regarding the regulation changes.


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