Calhoun City Council

Calhoun City Council members George Crowley (from left), Ray Denmon, James F. Palmer, Al Edwards and Jackie Palazzolo. / Contributed 

The Calhoun City Council approves several fourth quarter budget amendments during its meeting Monday night, as well as giving the go-ahead on a beer, wine and distilled spirits pouring license for Track Side Pizza & Pub.

“On the revenue side we have some very positive numbers,” said City Administrator Eddie Peterson before providing an overview of the budget amendments for council members. “It cleans up our fourth quarter and our year.”

For revenues, title ad valorem tax — a tax paid once determined by the fair market value of a vehicle upon sale — was about $90,000 more than the $175,000 originally budgeted, Peterson said.

“I did not think we would get to this point,” he added.

Also, the Local Option Sales Tax revenue saw an increase of approximately $154,000 from what the original budget had, Peterson said. Additionally, the city saw nearly a 70 percent increase from the original budget in revenues from building permits.

“We’ve certainly seen a turnaround from what we had several years ago,” Peterson said.

Peterson also noted that the city has reached a settlement with Gladfelter Insurance, which the city uses for property and liability coverage, where the company has agreed to pay back $57,000. The settlement stems from the Walker v. Calhoun case, which saw a federal appeals court uphold the city’s policy on bail for misdemeanor offenses in August after three years of litigation brought forth by the Southern Center for Human Rights on behalf of Maurice Walker — the case moved back to district court after the ruling. Walker had spent six days in jail awaiting a hearing because he could not afford to post a $160 bond, which was based on the city’s fixed bail schedule — those who couldn’t pay were held until their court date.

Peterson said the case had been a “drag on legal fees” over the last several years, but “it worked out pretty well.” The city had hired the Rome law firm Brinson Askew Berry in 2015 to defend against the class action law suit. Peterson spoke to the work of City Attorney George Govignon in reaching the settlement with Gladfelter.

Also in budget adjustments for revenues, the city saw an increase due to Northwest Georgia Regional Library System taking on the pay and benefits for library employees at the Calhoun branch from the city.

On the expenditure side, the “big three” — police, fire and public works — all came in under budget, Peterson said.

“So that helped our balance sheet,” he added.

Remaining budget amendments concerning confiscated assets, school debt service, hotel motel tax and SPLOST funds.

In his cash report, Peterson noted the reserves for general government totaled $3.43 million, which could cover three months of operational expenses.

Also during the meeting, the council approved a beer, wine and distilled spirits license for Track Side Pizza & Pub following a public hearing, in which no on commented. The restaurant is located at 116 Park Ave.

Council members also approved a request from Utilities Administrator Larry Vickery for a revision note to the city’s solar rate, to comply with updates to federal requirements. Vickery said a revised rate will be brought before the council over the next few months.

City offices will be closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.