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City Council meets together on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021.

City Council: Additional $17,500 requested for fire department headquarters

Athens City Council met in committees Monday evening to discuss possible ordinances regarding the city fire department and parking permits. 

Members of the City and Safety Services Committee talked about the city’s current fire department headquarters. City Service Safety Director Andy Stone asked Council to consider an additional $17,500 appropriation for unforeseen repairs to the headquarters’ concrete and stabilization beams. 

“We've been spending money trying to keep the existing fire department headquarters glued together for the next couple of years,” Stone said. “The engineer that did the design for the repairs and stabilization basically evaluated an additional section and provided that information about what was necessary to the contractor who's working on it.”

Councilman Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, asked Stone how long he thought the headquarters would remain operational considering the additional appropriation. Stone said he thought the money would be sufficient for a couple of extra years at the facility.

During the Transportation Committee, Councilman Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, introduced several changes to the city’s 72-hour parking permit application and enforcement processes. 

Risner first discussed reinstating a $35 application fee for the permit, which had been previously removed. Afterward, he read an email from Jeff McCall, administrative lieutenant at the Athens Police Department, which suggested the city move from physical permits to virtual ones. Risner said there might be an approximate cost of $6 added to the permit application cost to apply online. 

Councilwoman Solveig Spjeldnes, D-1st Ward, asked why the online application process would cost more money because it would actually result in less human involvement.  

Stone said there would still be several offices involved in the online process, including the code office and the parking enforcement office, which may contribute to the cost change. 

The committee also discussed annual street paving projects for 2022, which included parts of North Congress Street and Palmer Street, among others. Stone said the city was asking for an appropriation of $500,000 to complete the project. Normally the annual projects cost between $300,000 and $700,000 during any given year, he said. 

Later in the meeting, the Finance and Personnel Committee discussed the possibility of a one-reading resolution that would provide relief for people in the city who owe money on local income taxes. Councilman Sam Crowl, D-3rd Ward, said the proposed ordinance would offer a one-month amnesty window in June for citizens with unpaid taxes to have penalties and interest associated with those taxes waived. 

“This amnesty program is an incentive, really, to get people caught up, and I think it's a very good idea,” Crowl said. 

In addition to the amnesty program, the committee discussed a program operated through the city of Cleveland called the Central Collection Agency, which would help the city of Athens collect unpaid taxes from city residents. 


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