City Council approves several agenda items

As the Augusta City Council prepares to publish the 2016 budget and hold a public hearing for public input, they addressed several items of business at last night’s regular meeting.
Suzie Thein, executive director of Sunlight Children’s Advocacy and Rights Foundation (SCARF), appeared before the council requesting funding assistance from the city.  She discussed the valuable services offered by SCARF.
“We are proud to be able to assist communities with the programs that support victims of child abuse and we want to continue helping these victims,” Thein stated.
She was requesting the City of Augusta allocate funds in the amount of $1,500 per year.
Butler, Elk and Reno counties are the basic service area for SCARF, but as the need grows, the service area is expanding.
City Manager Josh Shaw advised council members the city provided $7,500 in 2006 to SCARF and that no funding has been provided since.  Shaw provided a letter of support  from Public Safety Director Tyler Brewer encouraging the council to consider use of the city’s Special Alcohol Funds to support SCARF.
Brewer’s letter advised SCARF’s services bring them into regular contact with children who have displaced from their homes, a number of whom are victims of drug and alcohol abuse by their parents or care givers. He also shared that during the children’s stay at the center they are actively involved in a number of counseling services to assist in either putting the family back together in a drug free environment or finding other guardianship for the children.
“As discussed during our recent budget work session, the balance in the Special Alcohol Fund continues to grow and the council has been looking for ways year after year to make the fund balance go down,” Shaw said.
The council approved funding to SCARF in the amount of $1,500 for the 2016 budget year.
Library funding
Action was also taken in a matter that had been discussed at a previous City Council meeting and at the recent budget work session.    A draft of the ordinance was presented at the July 6 council meeting and discussion took place between the council and Lisa Daniels, executive director of the library, at the work session, which resulted in a consensus to proceed with the ordinance but also to provide additional funding for library facility maintenance and improvements from the city’s Capital Improvement Fund 16.
Last night, the council approved Ordinance No. 2082 capping the Library Fund at 2015’s funding levels, which increased approximately 20 percent over the previous year; the cap for the Library Employee Benefits Fund provides resources for an anticipated 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums.
“These cap amounts will provide sufficient resources for the Augusta Public Library to continue to qualify for state grant funding in 2016. Staff recommends that this ordinance be reviewed on an annual basis,” Shaw said.
Dumpster Buyback Program
Also approved was Resolution No. 2015-08 establishing a program to purchase privately owned trash dumpsters.
Privately owned dumpsters are no longer permitted since the creation of the ordinance authorizing the creation of a program of city-provided refuse and/or recycling collection containers. Customers have been allowed to continue using their privately owned dumpsters until now.  With the new policy, compensation to private customers for their dumpsters will be applied as credit on their city utility bills.  
Park Board term limits
Park Board appointments have not been mayoral appointments, but by the City Council. There has never been an established process for the council specifying the manner in which members can be removed or vacancies filled.
The council approved Ordinance No. 2084 setting term limits for the Park Board and establishing a process.
The ordinance states Park Board members shall serve staggered three-year terms, however, the two members appointed from the council shall serve a term of one year.  All members shall serve a maximum of two consecutive terms and must be off the board for one term before being eligible for reappointment.
Other business
• Approval of the franchise agreement ordinance for Zayo Group, LLC to construct, maintain and operate as a competitive infrastructure provider and telecommunications services provider in the public right-of-way of the City of Augusta.
• Schedule public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at City Hall to take input and comment on the Proposed 2016 Budget.
• Approval of updating city’s change order policy increasing city manager authorization for approval from $5,000 to $10,000