HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The 2018-2019 Hiawassee budget was unanimously approved by city council members during the Oct. 29 monthly work session. The motion was raised by Councilwoman Anne Mitchell, and seconded by Councilwoman Patsy Owens. Councilwoman Nancy Noblest asked for the names of staff employed within the city’s sewer, water, and water treatment departments, in quest of a better understanding of the breakdown in employee pay, prior to the budget vote.
Ebony Simpson, a coordinator with the PlanFirst program, addressed the council and citizens, following the adjournment of the brief budget segment. Simpson commended Hiawassee on becoming a designated PlanFirst city, explaining the incentives offered as a result, one of which will result in a half-percent interest rate reduction on the $1.8 million GEFA loan extended to the City of Hiawassee.
According to Simpson, Hiawassee will receive official PlanFirst recognition during a state ceremony in either January or February, 2019, once Georgia’s soon-to-be-elected governor takes office.
In other news, a 45-day sign permit moratorium is scheduled to appear on next week’s regular council agenda, coinciding with the county’s recent decision to amend the sign ordinance, which will allow the city to consider similar measures.
Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales announced that the December council work session, and the January regular meeting, will not be held due to the former falling on Christmas Eve, and the latter scheduled for New Year’s Day.
The upcoming Halloween event and the “Light Up Hiawassee” Christmas celebration were discussed, with interest as to whether a lighted “Merry Christmas” sign would be displayed on Hiawassee Town Square, in addition to the “Happy Holidays” sign planned to be installed. In response, Mayor Ordiales revealed a photograph of an eight foot wooden cut-out, spelling the sentiment “JOY”, with a compact nativity scene cast between the second letter. A lighted “Merry Christmas” greeting was purchased by the former City of Hiawassee administration, with two current council members vocalizing support of its future use. Ordiales stated that a printed banner, rather, with the words “Merry Christmas” will be hung on the town square.
The work session ended with Councilwoman Amy Barrett questioning the necessary process for applicants whom are interested in serving on the Hiawassee Ethics Board. Mayor Ordiales replied that while citizens can submit an application to City Hall, only one candidate has expressed interest to date. Councilman Kris Berrong interjected that he had knowledge of interested individuals. Mayor Ordiales asserted that applicants whom do not regularly attend city meetings will not be approved by the joint vote needed from both council and mayor, a requirement for one-of-the-three appointed board members.
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Hiawassee City Council is scheduled to convene for a regular monthly session at 6 pm, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Meetings are open to the public.