Barnett resigns from Porterdale Post 3 seat
Council debates costs of Christmas festivities

PORTERDALE - Porterdale City Councilman Perry Barnett announced at the council's meeting Monday night that he would be resigning his Post 3 seat.

Barnett told the council he would be getting married in January and that he will more than likely be moving out of the city limits.

"Its been a great honor and pleasure working for the city," he said. "Hopefully, everything will go smoothly next year."

The councilman also said he was proud of all the progress the city has seen during his tenure on the council.

Following an executive session, the council passed a resolution to hold a special election for the seat on the same day as the presidential primary on Feb. 5.

Monday's council meeting was also the last for outgoing Post 2 councilwoman Mary Johnson.

Johnson, who announced earlier this year that she would not be seeking re-election, thanked the residents of Porterdale for giving her the opportunity to serve them.

She also thanked Porterdale Mayor Bobby Hamby, City Manager Tom Fox and the rest of the council members for their hard work during her time on the council.

In other Porterdale news, the festivities surrounding the annual lighting of the city's Christmas tree will go on as scheduled later this week, despite a heated debate on Monday over the associated costs and the lack of funds that have been raised.

"We're going to do the whole event as advertised," City Councilman Robert Foxworth said after the meeting.

Earlier in the evening, members of the council debated if parts of the festivities, if not all of them, should be canceled after they learned how much the city could potentially be on the hook for if no other monies were raised by Porterdale Better Hometown Manager Patti Battle.

Fox estimated that the cost to put on the entire event of the lighting of the Christmas tree, which includes having Santa led down Main Street by live reindeer, as well as a stage to support performances by two local ballet groups, to be about $5,000.

Thus far, Battle told the council that she had only been able to raise about $1,200 in local business sponsorships.

"I have run into problems," Battle said. "I have gotten a lot of, 'We don't have the money right now.'"

Foxworth said he felt the council should be kept abreast of how much events such as these are going to cost the city and that they need to be brought before them for final approval.

"When I found how much money had been spent, I was concerned," Foxworth said.

Two other events held in Porterdale earlier this year - Patriotic Day and The Yellow River Jam - cost the city $11,574, but only raised $9,085 in donations, sponsorships and vendor fees.

Foxworth also said that if the city can't raise enough money to cover events, taxpayers shouldn't have to pick up the tab.

"Let's just cancel the whole thing ... let's just be the Scrooge of this county," Hamby said tongue-in-cheek to Foxworth.

Foxworth later said he regretted approving the creation of the Better Hometown manager position and that he wanted it put on the agenda of the council's meeting in January.

Johnson said she approved of the job that Battle had done for the city.

"Porterdale has been the laughingstock of this county for 20 years," she said. "I think Patti has done an excellent job so far with what she's been given."

Battle asked that the council provide her with a budget for next year's events in January so she can write companies ahead of time for potential sponsorships and donations because that's when they budget their funds for such things.

Fox said that this is the first time they've had a hometown manager and that it's going to take some time to work out the "kinks."

"The events have been good. Porterdale has got a lot of exposure," he said.

Joel Griffin can be reached at joel.griffin@newtoncitizen.com.