SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The Social Circle City Council tackled a number of issues at its first work session this month, including advertising for city attorney and placing a referendum on Sunday sales of alcohol on the November ballot.
During a work session of the mayor and council last week, the members agreed by consensus they would be in favor of submitting a request for proposals, or RFP, for the position of city attorney, which is currently held by Madison attorney Joe Reitman.
Mayor Hal Dally floated the idea to the council members.
"How long has it been since an RFP has been issued or you have reviewed the selection of the city attorney?" Dally asked.
Councilwoman Angela Porter, who has been on the council since 1998, said RFPs for city attorney have not been sent throughout her tenure and that the position has been filled by members of the same law firm.
"I am open to the idea," Porter said. "I have no complaints, but I'd like to see what we can get."
Dally said there have been a few issues that have come up recently that would warrant opening up the process, including an error on an annexation that required a de-annexation.
Council members Traysa Price, Steve Shelton and David Keener agreed.
The Feb. 9 work session was the first work session the City Council has held.
"We're going to do some things a little differently," Dally said.
Dally, a former banker who also served as chairman of the Social Circle Board of Education, was elected mayor in November in a four-way race. He said he plans to hold work sessions so that council members can discuss in detail items that will appear on the agenda for regularly scheduled City Council meetings.
Work sessions, like all meetings of the City Council, are open to the public unless topics to be covered fall under the exceptions to the state Open Meetings Law, such as discussion of personnel matters, pending litigation or possible acquisition of real estate.
No formal action is taken at a work session, and all votes are conducted during a regular meeting of the City Council.
The Social Circle City Council meets the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room on East Hightower Trail. Dally said he plans to follow the pattern of the Social Circle Board of Education and hold a work session each month at 5:30 p.m., serve a light meal, and then commence the regularly scheduled City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m.
"I believe if you feed people, they will come," the mayor said.
Other items that were discussed during this work session included:
-- The City Council agreed to pursue placing a referendum on the November ballot to allow voters to decide whether to permit Sunday sales of beer and wine. City Manager Doug White said he talked with the manager at Freshway, who said the store is seeing a significant drop in sales now that Sunday alcohol sales are permitted in Covington.
-- The council discussed amending the city's travel policy. Currently, a $50 per diem is provided for employees who must travel to conferences due to work. The council agreed this per diem would be specified that employees can receive $10 for breakfast, $15 for lunch (unless that meal is included in the registration fee) and $15 for dinner.
Councilwoman Porter asked how this would affect City Council members who often will attend the Georgia Municipal Association's Annual Convention in Savannah in June. She said her family accompanies her and was concerned $40 a day would not be sufficient.
Dally said $13,000 is budgeted in the 2011-12 budget for City Council travel and training. He proposed that each council member would have his or her own budget of $2,600.
"If each council member has their own budget, for training and travel, it may address your issue," the mayor said.
-- The council will continue to seek nominations for a vacancy on the ethics committee. One of the members must be a practicing attorney. The seat became vacant when former Municipal Court Judge Rebecca Dally stepped down when her husband ran for mayor.
-- The City Council agreed to adjust the make-up of some boards and authorities in the city. The Downtown Development Authority, the Social Circle Development Authority, the Tree Board and the Historic Preservation Commission will each go from seven members to five. Councilman Shelton said he wanted the Council to appoint the chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission.
The Library Board and Planning and Zoning will retain their current seven-member boards.
-- The City Council discussed several options to increase the use of technology, including the ability for people to pay tickets and bills online with a minimum cost, using computers for public meetings and electronic payroll.