By BEN GRAFTON
At the Freeport City Council meeting of Feb. 24, representatives of Waste Management and Dayco appeared before the Council and asked for approval of a contract that would transfer the municipal waste pickup franchise held by Dayco to Waste Management. The term of the franchise expires in 2015. Under this agreement, trash pickup by Waste Management would begin on Monday, Feb. 28. Dayco employees and equipment would continue be used for at least 30 days following approval of the franchise transfer. A Waste Management official acknowledged that a 3-percent franchise fee would be paid to the city. The Council approved the transfer of the franchise.
In other business, City Planner Latilda Henninger reported that between 75 and 80 Freeport businesses and non-profit organizations have completed the registration now required of these entities. Henninger said registrations have not yet been received from a number of organizations. Even so, the registrations received report there are 329 employees working for these employers in the city of Freeport.
Henninger said that the mayor and Council have received a letter from Freeport Youth Sports inviting them to attend the opening day ceremonies on Feb. 26 for the youth baseball season. Marse has been invited to throw out the first pitch.
City Attorney Clayton Adkinson presented a required resolution setting forth the conditions of the bond agreement for the North Bay water main project. The Council approved the resolution.
Adkinson reported he has been contacted by Beasley-Allen, a law firm out of Montgomery, Ala., seeking to represent interests of municipalities in claims against British Petroleum arising from the oil spill. They offer a contract that would not result in any attorney fees or expert witness fees unless the municipality actually collects money as the result of a claim. Claims could be based on lost revenues from sales taxes, reduction in appraised value of real estate, gasoline taxes and similar items. A motion to authorize the city to enter into a contract with Beasley-Allen was approved.
Marse noted that the City still has not yet received funding for the North Bay water main extension project from the USDA Rural Development office. Marse thinks that they will delay finalization of the loan as long as they can.
Eleanor Turner representing the Freeport Town Planters Society presented a plan to revise the landscaping of the “Triangle” at the intersection of SR-20 and Business U.S. 331. The new plan will be low maintenance, perhaps bi-annual. The Planters propose planting Asiatic Jasmine, a low growing ground cover which can be walked on and will totally cover the ground. It will be cut with a lawn mower perhaps twice per year. Marse said there is a lot of trash that blows into that intersection and he asked what could be done to control the problem. Turner said that the Planters will continue its practice of stopping to pick up trash all the time. A dwarf Loropetalum and dwarf Yaupon will also be used. The Planters also propose painting the inside of the Triangle and the anchor. The water fountain nozzles will be relocated around the inside of the wall and will spray toward the anchor. The Planters asked the city to prepare the ground, clean and pressure-wash the inside of the fountain, install a new pump and fix the lights. The Council approved a motion to move forward with the plan.
Turner announced that the Miss Freeport Pageant would be held in the Freeport High School auditorium on March 19 at 6 p.m..
City Clerk Robin Haynes asked the Council to approve writing off utility accounts which have had no activity for at least two years. The auditors approve this action. Records have been flagged so that if attempts are made to reopen these accounts the applicants will be billed for the account balance written off. Haynes will report back to the Council with information on the amount of the write off.
Haynes also asked for approval to engage a collection agency to pursue outstanding balances on accounts. She said agencies charge a fee of 30 to 35 percent of any monies collected. Haynes proposes turning over accounts with higher outstanding balances to an agency. The Council approved the request.