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April 9--  The City of Vidalia is considering imposing new fees to help pay for city services

At its meeting Monday night, the city council took under consideration proposals for an annual fee for owners of alarm systems and another for a technology fee to be collected in city court.

The city says firemen and policemen answered nearly 8,000 false alarms in the past six years and it wants to charge alarm system owners a $10 a year registration fee to offset the cost of responding.  Council members Kailey Dees and Greg Johnson said they could understand the need for an initial registration fee, but not for a fee every year thereafter.  The measure was tabled for future consideration.

The council also tabled a suggestion that the city court be allowed to collect a technology fee for each conviction in the court.  The fee would be earmarked for the technology needs of the court and the administration of justice in the city.

The council approved changes to traffic fines in the city for 16 offenses including driving under the influence.  The first offense will cost you $1,300, the second $2,300 and the third $4,300.  It also added a $3,000 fine for the third offense of driving while your license is suspended or revoked and a $1,300 fine for the second offense of driving with a suspended, revoked or cancelled vehicle registration.

After experiencing social media criticism about operations of the Vidalia Recreation Department, City Manager Nick Overstreet told the meeting  the department is in transition due to new leadership and promised it will be better in the future.  Citizen Toby Washinger told the council fences on  four fields at the Ed Smith Recreation
Complex need work and that the fields at the Ezra Taylor Complex need improvement so teams can use them for practice.

Citizen Kay Stafford inquired about the role of the Recreation Department Board and was told by Councilwoman Kailey Dees the board needs to write a set of by-laws defining its functions and responsibilities.

Stafford, as he did at the last council meeting, again complained about the lack of progress in repairing six streets damaged by Hurricane Irma last September and was again told the city is awaiting federal money to help pay for the repairs.

City manager Overstreet is frustrated with FEMA's bureaucracy and reported the latest hurdle is its claim that one of the damaged streets, Lewis Street, is listed on the federal road inventory as a federal street and it's up to the city to prove otherwise.

Stafford's reply, "Dealing with the U.S. government, if nothing happens in the next 60 to 90 days, go to the contingency fund, make the repairs and be done with it.  That's my recommendation!"

Stafford, a former city councilman, also complimented the Vidalia Fire Department for its quick response and professionalism regarding a kitchen fire in the home of a lady in his neighborhood.

festtshirtVidalia Onion Festival Chairman Josh Giles (left) presented this year's Festival T-Shirt to Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon (right) and to Mayor ProTem Raymond Turner.

For staff use only.