By JEFFREY POWELL
The Freeport City Council held its first regularly scheduled council meeting of the new year on Jan. 10, 2017, at Freeport City Hall. All council members were present with fewer than one dozen members of the general public in attendance. Mayor Russ Barley welcomed everyone to the meeting and wished all a happy new year.
After conducting several house cleaning measures City Clerk Becky Podraza asked for and received an additional $500 to supplement an already approved $2,500 to purchase breakaway bases for the baseball fields at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex. These bases are meant to reduce, or ideally eliminate, injuries to sliding base runners.
Under legal matters Attorney Clay Adkinson brought up the second reading of a no-wake zone ordinance intended to reduce boaters to idle speed in Four Mile Creek. The council adopted the ordinance and boaters should be aware of the change. “Everyone on Four Mile Creek thanks the council,” said Council member Janice Mclean.
Adkinson also spoke about a move to make the mayor a non-voting member of the council. Currently the mayor can vote to break a tie. The positive side to having a non-voting mayor is that he or she can speak to council members without breaking Sunshine Law regulations. The council approved the measure and it will be decided by the voters in the next election.
Parks Director Dana Weiler spoke to the council about preparing the city pool for the upcoming summer season. She said she needed approximately $9,000 to get the pool ready for opening day which is normally in May. Weiler also stressed that this effort may not keep the pool running for the rest of the season and that major work would have to be done to keep the pool viable. She estimated that the cost could be as much as $60,000 to keep the pool open for the next 10 years.
The meeting concluded with an extended conversation concerning merit raises for employees. There was much talk about when and who should be involved in these types of decisions. It was pointed out that merit raises should be dealt with as a separate issue apart from cost of living and standard raises.
The next Freeport City Council meeting will be on Jan. 26, at 6 p.m.
By JEFFREY POWELL