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Williamson City Council Meeting - 11.3.22

[Note from the Editor: There is an email from Tom Brown to Editor Becky Watts of Pike County Times below this write up that was added on 12.2.22.]

The Williamson City Council met on Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 7 p.m. Present were: Mayor Steve Fry, Council members Angela Martin, Tom Brown, Carol Berry, Steve Davis, City Attorney Rob Morton, City Clerk Pamela Schoentag, and Librarian Milla Riggins.

They started a little late as they were waiting on Stephen Levin. He was able to hear the Town Hall comments when Mayor Fry began the meeting with the Town Hall a little after 7.

There are several citizens in attendance along with Pike County Times and Pike Journal Reporter.

Town Hall

Carol Boronkas said that she was thankful for being a part of the City of Williamson even though she doesn’t live within the actual city limits. Said that there was about $800 or so in profit for the library with the Mystery Theater. Encouraged them to keep up the good work. Said that she saw kids from one end to the other at the Trunk or Treat. Here we are with little Williamson, she said. We don’t realize the reach that we have here. She ended with saying thank you.

Matt Martin. We want this to be a safe place and like seeing things like Trick or Treating and want to stop things like the liquor store. That is why we’re here.

Librarian Milla Riglin said that they gave out over 4 big totes of books. Ran out of books. Ran out of treats. Ran out of everything.

Mayor Fry said that this was a great event and over 800 kids came through.

Regular Monthly Meeting


II. APPROVAL OF THE AGENDA (O.C.G A. § 50-14-1 (e) (1))

Added executive session for personnel per Council Member Tom Brown's request. Motion for approval of the agenda as amended. Approved 5-0.

III. APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES (O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(e) (2))
A. Minutes from Meetings held 6 October, 2022

Motion to approve the minutes. Approved 5-0.


Mayor Fry said that the city is 83% of the way through the year at the end of October. Brought in 90% of scheduled revenue has come in. 95% of property taxes has come in. 106% of TAVT has come in. People are buying cars, buying permits, and putting in application fees. Budgeting has come in about what they figured with some being a little over. CARES Act Grant has come in and was about what they got last year. Motion to accept the financial report. Approved 5-0.

Mayor Fry said that the city has received the management letter, audit answer, etc. There were 2 line items with suggestions. No big deal. Just giving direction on what to do.


City Clerk Pamela Schoentag said she sent an email about alcohol permit requirements. She was told that she could fingerprint for handler permit within the state of Georgia. Do we want to do federal for the handlers? Said that she was told that the city can do all of this on the state level rather than dealing with both. Consensus to do state only.

Discussion on mobile catering and pouring of alcohol. Licensed somewhere else and pouring in our city. There was a lot of discussion on what responsibilities belong to the city and what belong to the state. City Attorney Rob Morton said at one point in the discussion that ventured into regulation of a private enterprise that we don’t have anything in our policy in which we can regulate that entity. If there is a complaint, the state will look into it. But the city can add obtaining a copy of the operational agreement to the annual renewal process. Motion to go with state regulations rather than federal. Approved 5-0.

Pike Public Works has been really helpful to us and put up signs, etc. quickly. Said thank you.

Pamela said that her job responsibilities are a lot more than she expected, but she feels like she has found her groove. She thinks that $12 isn’t quite viable for all that she is doing here. This isn’t matching with other cities around here of the same size with jobs similar to hers. They start out more than she did. She asked them to consider that when they go into executive session and help her out a little bit.

[Note from the Editor: It was said in the meeting that City Clerk Pamela Schoentag is currently working for $12 an hour. Furthermore, Librarian Milla Riglin is working for $10 an hour and Library Assistant Morgan Mathews is working for $8 an hour. Those numbers are low compared to amounts that I've seen in the county (Yes, I have open records that tell how much everyone in the county made last year) and traditionally, low pay is an issue with retaining quality employees in both cities and counties. The city is investing in quality employees by paying to send them to school to gain knowledge that will help the city both now and in the long run and/or benefitting from employees who are learning from those who walked before them. It is in the city's best interest to retain quality employees with a decent living wage.]

B. Council Member Report

Carol Berry.

[Note from the Editor: For those who have read my write ups about the county over the years, this is where things are different than our county manager form of government. In the City of Williamson, the responsibilities for different parts of city government are handled by members of the Council because they do not have a city administrator in Williamson to handle everything. These Council Members are dedicated and spend a great deal of time working together to handle city business. It also means that they have helped with projects like laying water lines, etc. for the good of the city that they live in. A tremendous amount of dedication is required to serve as a city council member.]

Said that there was a water leak from a gasket in Ashley Glenn. They got someone to fix it.

There was an issue at Trunk or Treat where kids were jumping over the spigot and broke it. It was turned off quickly. A compression fitting came apart, but it’s turned off right now.

EPA lead and copper rule letter. The EPA has changed the rules so all water systems must have an inventory to be sure that there is no lead in the pipes by October of 2024. This does not include households built after 1989 because this was outlawed in 1989. But some people will have to be tested. There are some questions on the EPA rules on this. There was a lot of discussion. If lead, the pipes have to be replaced in the house. The city has to apply for these funds and the city is required to do this. She recommends a request for proposal to see if we can find someone to help us on this. She wants several on this for inspections. Carter and Sloope is one, and there are others. City Attorney Rob Morton advised that the engineering firm will include a portion to do the scope and this will include the services of those who are affected. They will give a price on accepting the scope. Similar to grant writing so no work will be done until/unless the grant is approved. Scope and services needed will be part of the bid on this. The city has no lead lines. Probably just households and not that many. The entity that submits the proposal will have to determine the number based on the government requirements. No other cities are doing this yet. Motion to move forward on this. Approved 5-0.

Thank you on the Mystery Dinner fundraiser for the Library. Thanks to Williamson UMC and all who helped with this including Williamson United Methodist Church, Milla, Pamela and her husband David and daughter Macy, Morgan, Carol's husband, Coco Bean, Buddy, and James Jenkins.

[Note from the Editor: There was a request to "segregate all expenses, including individual wages, comp time and all other related expenses for the dinner theater" from council member Tom Brown by email prior to the meeting. He also asked for a gross revenue for the activity. Expenses were as follows: $174.49 for food, Library Director Milla Riglin worked 4.5 hours at $10 an hour for $45.00 before tax, Library Assistant Morgan Mathews worked for 10 hours at $8 an hour for a total of $80 before tax, and City Clerk Pamela Schoentag worked for 3.25 hours in comp time. Total income from the ticket sales was $1,140. So the Mystery Dinner Theater raised over $800 for the Williamson Library! Thank you to all who were a part of this endeavor!]

Trunk or Treat was wonderful and thanked Church of Joy, Milla, Morgan, Houston and Steve for fixing the leak, Matt for the music, and all who helped with this.

Special thanks to the Mayor on the LOST negotiations and on the Joint Comprehensive Plan. She said that she hoped everyone had read the Comp Plan because this is our guide for the next 5 years and told how to find it. Click here to read it from the Pike County Government page. There are vision statements and key facts for all of the cities, maps, accomplishments, etc.

Carol read the Vision Statement aloud: "Williamson is a small town with a big heart. Here, we try to stay true to our city motto, “Cherish our past, plan our future.” Indeed, the past and future meld in Williamson, with reminders of our long ago rural roots alongside newer offerings. We will preserve the small town community spirit while accepting and guiding the changes that time and growth will bring. We will pursue opportunities for growth with thoughtful planning and citizen input. (She told citizens at this point that we are glad to see y'all here and glad to hear y'all's input.) We will maintain our roots as a rural Georgia railroad town while reaching toward the future with a modern, convenient and thriving homestyle community."

She said that the city has a lot of things going on right now. The Chamber of Commerce, GMA, and the Department of Community Affairs all recommend encouraging tourism in order to encourage visitors to spend money which increases the city's coffers and the LOST coffers. They also recognize cities as being similar to a development of regional impact. The city interacts and enhances the area around but outside of the city. She said that there is a current trend in our city council that encourages a different viewpoint.

She said that council member Brown has expressed his desire to only allow those who live in the city limits to speak at council meetings, to keep a tally of those who live in the city and those who live outside of the city at the library and events that the city holds like the Mystery Dinner, Wisteria Festival, and the Trunk or Treat. This is a very different viewpoint than I have been raised on as a city council member. She tries to be receptive to new ideas and viewpoints so to show this, she said that the city needs to approve and participate in all city activities.

She said that she has also been taught by the rule, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For the past 7 years, the city has had a Trunk or Treat, and for the past 8 years, a Mystery Dinner Theater. She said that she was the only council member interested in helping at Mystery Dinner Theater so she planned this to the best of her ability from past experiences.

The Bicentennial Parade is coming on Friday, December 9. We need to decide if we are going to have a float in the parade. We had one last year. She made a motion that the city plan and make a float in the Christmas parade. Approved 5-0.

She talked about the canned food drive that the city usually has that is supported by amnesty on late fees with the library. The food is put in baskets to people in the city, etc. and do a day of caroling and delivering these baskets. It's a lot of fun. Librarian Milla Riglin asked if she could speak.

Motion to allow public comment. Approved 5-0. [Note from the Editor: Milla is staff and not the public, but I am glad that the Council voted to listen to what she was doing.]

Librarian Milla Riglin said that she didn't realize that they needed to vote on this so she had already talked to Daelin about putting these baskets together. Anybody can donate. Attorney Morton said that Carol wanted to do as a city event and have a vote on this. Motion to have the caroling and delivery of baskets. It will be on December 17 at 2 p.m. It has been a long standing tradition of the city to do this. Approved 5-0.

[Note from the Editor: The annotated agenda from the October 6, 2022 meeting tells where the comment about only allowing citizens who live in the city speak came from. In that meeting, Council Member Tom Brown asked the city attorney to "check legality of limiting public comment to just citizens of the city." The motion was made by Council Member Steve Davis and seconded by Council Member Angela Martin. The motion was approved 4-0.]

Council Member Stephen Levin. He asked about the bus in the walking trail parking lot. The lady that lives across from the park is a school bus driver and usually parks it in her yard. When we go the road paved, she was parking it at the Ice House. Discussion that it would be good solution to put a parking pad in that is higher than the level of the road so it does not damage the road. Public Works mentioned that something needed to be done so as not to damage the road. She is being considerate about not tearing up the road and not blocking the fall festival, but the city needs to be look at this and see what can be worked out. She is always supportive of the city. Mayor Fry is going to talk to her.

Council Member Angela Martin. She has spoken to 2 mold remediation companies about the problem at the Williamson Library. Both suggest air quality tests because there is growth, but they are unsure what type without a test. $1,055 and $1,250 for the other. One said that there is a leak in the wall with a lot of moisture. This is about 4 feet up. This amount is just for air testing. May have to test for asbestos too. Further discussion: The building was built in 1986. Moved to the city after 2000. Heat pump put in around 2015 or 2016. Need to protect our citizens and employees. Motion to hire the $1,055 company. Approved 5-0. From the library maintenance budget. Consensus to move this money. [Note from the Editor: When an amount is approved for a specific purpose, there is a requirement to state where the money will come from to pay for the service.]

How is cleaning service going? Great. Cleaned the blinds. No more spiders. Talked to Crystal about the Whistle Stop. Bob is not transferring, selling, and nothing. It had been said that he was transferring to business partner with Papa Johns. But saying that nothing is changing now.

Council Member Steve Davis. Saw that the speed limit sign is working. Question about Amwaste and schools and going one way or both way on streets. Said maybe some trees need trimming.

Council Member Tom Brown. He said that he didn't have anything to start with, but he does not. As usual, things get twisted. He said that for those who do not live in the city, it is not an attempt to not let you speak. He said that we simply want to give priority to taxpayers. He added that anyone outside of the city can speak by simply talking to the clerk to get on the agenda. He said that those who live in the city will hold more weight when they speak because they are picking up the tab.

He then said that the city has to fund these activities like the Mystery Dinner Theater, Wisteria Festival etc. That comes out of what the citizens pay in taxes. We do have an obligation and it's not based on whether or not it makes Carol mad but what he is told that the can and can't do or what he should and shouldn't do. [Note from the Editor: At this point, Mayor Steve Fry directed Council Member Tom Brown to direct his conversation to him rather than at Council Member Carol Berry.] Council Member Brown said that he felt like Council Member Berry had called him out so he was responding.

He then went on to say that sometimes we have activities where we cannot make it mandatory for an employee work overtime. He said that every one of these activities requires that so that needs to be dealt with.

We all want things to work well within the city. We all want to get along, but that doesn't seem like something that everyone wants to do. He said that from folks who have lived here and been on the council forever, he feels like no new ideas are welcome. He said that he lived in a place where folks started moving in on us, and we weren't happy. But it is what it is and it's progress with people moving in.

He said that an example of this is the hearing on the apartments in Zebulon that everyone turned out for. He said that he understood that you can only speak if you live in the City of Zebulon because it affects you. [Note from the Editor: This is incorrect. ANYONE can speak at a City of Zebulon meeting. Of course as I have said with the apartment rezoning when county residents have asked me if they could speak, I have told them that they could but they needed to carry a Zebulon resident with them because that citizen's comments would hold more weight with their elected officials than a county resident's comments would. Council Member Brown is correct about city voting residents versus those who live in the city but are technically members of the county, but I would think that his request to check the legality of limiting public comment to just citizens of the city is what brought this on. Words matter, and it was how this was said that raised eyebrows. On a side note, there were 465 registered City of Williamson voters who could have voted in the November 2, 2021 race in which Council Member Tom Brown ran unopposed for City Council Post 3 and the City Council Post 2 race between current Council Member Angela Martin and past Council Member "Randy" Martin (who was present and speaks later in the meeting). In that election, current Council Member Angela Martin received 41 votes and past Council Member Randy Martin received 31 votes. That was a 15.7% turnout with one race opposed and the other unopposed. All that I will say to that is that Williamson residents need to be involved in your elections as well as your city council meetings because those who are elected are speaking for you. Seeing so many people at the meeting tonight made this civil activist happy because I am one of a handful of citizens who sit in county meetings. Things change when you give your time to make sure that the rules are followed and that your representatives are representing your interests like you want them to do. Sunshine on city representation helps too. Attend a meeting when you get the chance. And anyone can request a copy of post agendas and minutes to keep caught up on what is going on. Call me at 770-468-7583 if you have any questions, and I'll be happy to talk you through it.]

He said that it's not that we want to close anything. It's not that we want to not do these things. It's the fact that we have ordinances and statutes that we have to follow. Sometimes that rubs people the wrong way, and if it does, I'm sorry as I can be but I'm not going to be the one who goes against our city ordinances and/or against the citizens who give us the taxes to do these things. If that's an issue, vote me out in 3 years. I sat on the Planning Commission and then the Council and tried to see what was going on. We have got to make sure we do it the right way with rules that we have to go by.

He added at the end of his comments specifically to City Clerk Pam Schoentag that there was nothing really interesting in the personnel part of the discussion. He said that he didn't want her to think anything bad by his requesting it.

C. City Attorney Report

City Attorney Rob Morton said that the Personnel Policy is ready for signature. Need to discuss how to update code when things are approved.

First reading of Bid Policy tonight. He has his notes, but he hasn't received anything from anyone other than that. Said that there is some clarity for Pamela in her training, etc. that needs to be addressed. His concern is that that the clerk, mayor, and attorney be on the same page so that can be reflected in their minutes.

What is the legal requirement (code section) with policies, etc? GMA always says to consult with their attorney. He doesn't have an issue with doing things out of an abundance of precaution but would rather do things because they are obligated to do it.

Discussion on the alcohol ordinance along with criminal background requirement which was mentioned earlier with differing things being told to their city clerk. He asked, What is the state requiring us to do, and what do we need to modify? He needs to understand what the city is being told to do so the city is in compliance - especially with criminal backgrounds.

Also asked for Pamela and himself that they begin given employment clarification on her position. Mainly on salary vs hourly. (Exempt vs. non-exempt.) Hours, overtime, comp time, etc. New personnel policy allows flex time, but Mayor and Council need to approve it. Does this need to be ratified? Any hours over 40 hours allows overtime or comp time at time and a half. Exempt means no overtime requirements – salaried - and that the person is a supervisor or has management responsibilities. Most people are not this because wages or salary requirements because the threshold or minimum requirement is $35,000+ per year.

[Note from the Editor: At the end of October, City Clerk Pamela Schoentag asked the city attorney for clarification about whether she is an hourly or salaried (non-exempt or exempt) employee by email prior to the meeting. She also asked for clarification on wages, hours, etc. if she is considered by the city to be a salaried employee. Rob advised that she would have to make a minimum threshold and also meet specific criteria. He asked her to confirm her salary. Pam advised that she makes $25,000 a year. His next email reflected what was said in the meeting that she does not qualify as a salaried employee. "This does not meet the minimum threshold for an exempt employee. Therefore, you are considered a non-exempt employee." Pam then asked questions that I would ask in her shoes like whether non-exempt (hourly) means that she is eligible for overtime since she works more than 40 hours a week and whether her lunch breaks are paid or not, how this applies to time needed to go to an appointment, sick days, vacation days, etc. Again, it was said in the meeting that City Clerk Pamela Schoentag is currently working for $12 an hour, and it appears that she is being treated like a salaried employee with comp time being given for her extra hours working on the Mystery Theater. I wonder how that works with her working more than 40 hours per week. Is she hourly or is she salaried? For those who work or have worked a salaried job, the classification matters.

Add that to an email from early September in which she told Mayor Fry that it was her "sincerest hope" that an appropriate raise had been budgeted for her as city clerk. She said that she "originally sold myself short when accepting my current pay for this position. As I've progressed, I've realized the duties and responsibilities are disproportionate to what I'm currently being paid and that my current rate of pay is not comparable to other similarly sized cities." She went on to say that the mean pay for other clerks in cities similar in size to Williamson starts out over $30,000 a year. She asked that "my hard work and dedication in combination with the positive feedback from others in relation to how well I'm doing" is taken into consideration when her pay is calculated into the budget. The City of Williamson has sent her to classes, and she is settling into her job as the city clerk. Is $25,000 a year going to keep her there with her knowledge and the amount of work that she is putting into her job? Retention for a city, county, police agency, judicial office staff, etc. is extremely important if the city wants to continue moving forward. My thought? I don't know of a lot of office positions that only pay $12 an hour these days. I was making $10 an hour working in a CPA office 18 years ago, and that was high for the time.]

Letter from Scott Huckaby from the Water & Sewerage Authority about the water tank and tower. He said that he doesn't necessarily agree that as a possible violation. He can look into it in more detail if they would like, but his recollection from another jurisdiction's contract is that as long as it isn’t from another source, the city can use its own water source. Morton said that what he read was that this is why part of this section was removed. It might be his understanding, but I don't know if I agree that this is a violation of the contract.

Said that several resolutions that have been passed and need to be finalized by December so everything up to date and ready by the end of the year.

D. Mayor’s Report

There is an item about the pump status with the water tank is on the agenda as well as the stability of the tank as it is emptied.

Said that he did try to caution the employees about how pay was notated with the Mystery Dinner Theater. He said anyone else working this function and requiring pay would have had this pay come out of the library fund and not regular wages. He talked to Pamela about it, and it should not add into overtime or flex time. Need to talk to Morton about this. He said that he needs to talk to Attorney Morton about the legalities of when an employee does something for the city outside of their regular duties and whether or not it is counted in this. Rob said, It is. Steve said that he doesn’t mind paying taxes for people outside of the city coming in to help with events with a good example being Trunk or Treat, Wisteria, Mystery Dinner Theater, etc.

City Council Member Steve Davis - So we are penalizing the library by using their money to pay these people for a library event? Mayor described the agreement between the library and the Sherlock Holmes Society a few years back with part of the agreement being putting on the Mystery Dinner Theater. They also got a set of Sherlock Holmes novels. It didn't have an ongoing commitment, but people liked it so we kept doing it. This brought in about $1,200 this time with about $820 brought in. [Note from the Editor: Specifics are in blue toward the top of this write up.]

There is an issue on Little Street with housing. Some water bills that are outstanding. Some houses that are in ill repair. Possible habitation issues in some places.

The City has been erroneously charging the vegetable stand for trash pick up. Trash collection and water are tied together for most residences. Residential is required to have it, but it is an option for businesses. They have a dumpster so there is no trash service charge. Morton asked about exemptions in written policy. They have a dumpster for vegetable stand and have for years. Almost $500 has been charged for trash cans that they have never used. The owner came in and asked about it. It started in December of 2019. Motion to approve the $493 to the produce stand. Approved 5-0.

There has been discussion about hotel/motel tax for short-term rentals. He has gone through other cities’ ordinances, etc. What is the difference between short-term rental and regular rental? 30 days or less. Municipalities have different amounts, and he is looking into this for the city. Morton said that there may be some changes on a legislative level between short and long-term rentals. City Council Member Tom Brown has also asked some questions. They are going to try to figure out how this needs to work for the city.

e. County Matters

County got approval on Capital Improvement Element (CIE) update. Retired Educators Day on November 6, 2022. BOC approved application for extension for Service Delivery Stategy (SDS) which will give the mayor the time to address what is needed in agreements. In the past, just signed the continuation. But there have been some changes. Intergovernmental agreements have changed. Impact Fee collection by the county in exchange for services here in the city. So there is a need for discussion. The Sheriff doesn’t fall under Service Delivery Strategy and maybe other elected officials. Discussion needs to take place about services with the county.

Motion to allow the public to speak. Approved 5-0. [Note from the Editor: Council allowed public comment.]

Randy Martin. Do we have an ordinance that says that people outside of the city limits can’t speak in meetings? No. Council Member Tom Brown said that this is not something we would pass as far as an ordinance.

She then asked, Most of revenue for the city comes from real estate taxes, right? About 1/5 of $345,000 budget is from property taxes. She was told that the city is trying to be less dependent on property taxes. Other revenue sources include United Bank franchise fee, GA Power poles on the city land, LOST, and SPLOST. Randy then said that what she was hearing is that most of our income is from businesses that serve people outside of the city limits. She was told that this is correct. And then Mayor Fry said, Yes and no. LOST is collected from everywhere in the county though alcohol sales in Williamson go directly to the city. If there was a Walmart in Molena, county taxes from that would be split up to everyone by a formula. Council Member Tom Brown said that largest single largest source is property taxes at $65,000 and the other is $61,000. So Randy reiterated that that the overall largest source comes from the people who live in the surrounding area. She then asked if there has been an event put on that the city lost money putting on? She was told no.

She then directed a question to Tom about an earlier comment in which he said that he came from somewhere else before coming to Williamson, and Rob directed her to speak to the Mayor.

Randy then asked Steve if he knew where Tom came from. Tom answered the question and said that he has owned property here for years but moved here from south Clayton County 5 years ago when they got pushed out. [Note from the Editor added 12.2.22: Pushed out isn't meant in a derogatory way here. A lot of people living in Pike County now know EXACTLY what this means because they came here to get what they used to have elsewhere! I needed to clarify so it was clear what I was saying.]

Motion to allow another public comment. Approved 5-0. [Note from the Editor: Council allowed public comment again. I am noting this so you can look back at it when I add open records information about a complaint that was placed in an email by a council member about public comment.]

A male observer in the room said that you did make it sound like the business pays the franchise tax in the bill rather than the people in the city paying for it. GA Power says franchise fees that comes from the residents. Mayor said that we get back much more than what people are paying on their bills. Usage of electricity is where that money comes from. [Note from the Editor: I didn't know everyone there and did not note who was speaking in this part of the room even though I'm listening to the tape. This meeting was long.]

F. Library Report

Librarian Milla Riglin thanked Council Member Steve Davis for replacing the door lock. Said Trunk or Treat was great. Said that they gave out 4 bins of books from literacy. 42 kids came to Dress Up Day at the Library. Toddler Time has been astronomical. One more person has joined the adult book club.

Milla then said that the library is having some printer issues. Put a copy limit on it. Matt Martin had some issues with it. Cleaning and diagnostics are helping.

287 patrons. $54.54 brought in.

Back to needing a new printer. It’s a 2006. She said that the library is bringing in more revenue, and we need a printer.

She also wants a decent Christmas tree. She was told that there are 3 in the shed. She didn’t know that. She wants to see about finding someone to be a Santa for her kids. Does she need a vote? How does all this work with money that is brought in?

Mayor Fry said that the city budgeted for the library to bring in $400 for the year and you brought in revenue of $1,386. Said that she has about $2,600 for expenses. He said that she should look for Christmas tree and commercial printer from her budget. (If a Christmas Tree in storage isn't acceptable.)

New books are flying off of the shelves. She was allotted $300 for books for the whole year. She has the money in her line item that can be used. She asked how this process is supposed to work.

Attorney Morton said that as a department head, she needs to submit a request and identify the line item. We have a requisition for her to fill out. Consensus that email is fine. The purchase/bid policy may help on this too.

A suggestion was made to see if state purchasing can be used to buy the printer.

Motion to allow spending up to $400 printer. Approved 5-0. [Note from the Editor: Kudos to the council and their department head for working through this process with their attorney to make this happen. Clarity was needed, and they worked together to get this done.]

Motion to approve public comment. Approved 5-0. [Note from the Editor: A motion was made again to allow public comment.] Matt Martin quickly suggested looking into a public lease on a commercial printer where they do everything.

Milla respectfully requested entertaining the idea of giving Morgan and Milla a raise at the library. She said that they have more than shown their ability there. The Mayor said that there is some room in their budget, and it would be nice to have this conversation before next year's budget. [Note from the Editor: Again, Librarian Milla Riglin is working for $10 an hour and Library Assistant Morgan Mathews is working for $8 an hour. According to open records from earlier this year, the lowest paid employee at the Zebulon Library is making $12 an hour. I realize that it's a larger library, but if employees are bringing in money to help pay for their budget, why would the city not want to retain them so there isn't a constant change of employees there? Continuity is a plus for cities, counties, and businesses when it comes to training, etc. And you can work at Wendy's for more than that. It's not their calling, but the pay really needs to be comparable to what they are doing for the city.]


A. Sherlock Holmes Mystery Dinner Theater Recap

60 people both nights.

B. Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat Update

800+ kids. Over 2,000 people there. 4 deputies out there.

C. City Well Status Pump Update

A lot of money if we want to in service that tank for city water, etc. About $27,000 or more to clean and repaint it. $800 to fill it back up. Not making much profit, but it’s enough to pay for the cost to run it every month. Motion to replace the pump for the $825 quote. Approved 5-0.

D. Procedures Manuals Review. Monthly Update.

E. Bid Policy Review.

Combined D and E to discuss Purchasing and Bid Policy. This will be presented for a 1st reading in the future. Completely different than what we looked at the first time. Walked through this with Attorney Rob Morton. 1st reading tonight. 2nd reading and final approval at the next meeting. This will give an opportunity to review. Motion to accept this update as a 1st reading. Approved 5-0.

F. Personnel Policy Discussion

Finalized at the last meeting. This is being signed and is policy now.

G. G. Purchasing Policy Review

Already done.

H. Meeting Protocol Discussion

If people want to speak, 3 days for public agenda, etc. Same thing been using for years. Review and see if changes are needed.

I. LEAF AC System Maintenance Quotes

Already done. Air quality has to be done first. Librarian Milla Riglin said that we are waiting to have the AC looked at. This can’t be done until the air quality is done. The maintenance is for annual.

There does not appear to be water seeping out, and it doesn’t feel damp, but the guy used a moisture meter that went 4 feet up on the wall. No more moisture on the floor or in the closet.


A. Service Delivery Strategy Update

Mayor speaking with the County Manager. Council Member Tom Brown been talking with other cities about working together.

B. Christmas Parade Planning.

We agreed to this. What do we want to do? It needs a railing around the back. Motion to allow the public to contribute to this. Approved 5-0.

Motion to authorize a budget for up to $500 from the Parks and Recreation as well as donations for the committee to use. Approved 5-0.

C. Wisteria Festival Planning.

We are talking about having this on Pike County’s school break. Then there’s Easter. Do we want to have it? Motion to have a festival in the spring next year. Council Member Tom Brown wondered if it needs to be named Wisteria. Should we do a spring festival? Council Member Carol Berry said that every other city has a name for it. Question whether the city could do more with it than Wisteria? Attorney Rob Morton said that there was a resolution on the festival name.

Carol said that people are wanting to be a part of this already. Discussion on when to have this and whether to keep it on the same date. Motion to keep it on the first weekend of April. Approved 5-0. Need a committee? Yes.

VIII. Executive Session. (O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3, If needed)

Into Executive Session at 9:26 p.m.

IX. PUBLIC COMMENT: None Requested.


(The meeting ended some time after 9:30. It was long...)

[Note from the Editor: Apparently there was some discussion about the Town Hall Meeting portion of this meeting as well as there being no request for public comments though the council members voted to allow each person to speak in this particular meeting. I'm going to upload the emails that I have verbatim. If there is more to this that I don't have, please let me know and I'll upload an update.]

On Friday, Nov 4, 2022 at 9:27 AM John Brown wrote:


Did we advertise there was a town hall meeting last night? If so, provide a copy of the ad.

I am a bit confused, the Agenda did not reflect a town hall, nor did the sign in front of the library. In addition, on the Agenda as written, there was no request for public comments.

While public input is always welcome and encouraged, it would be appropriate to give notice to all residents so they might attend.

Tom brown" (Verbatim from the Email)

[Note from the Editor: I had to go back and look at the agenda to see that there wasn't a Town Hall Meeting actually listed. I have been to numerous Town Hall Meetings with the City of Williamson and was surprised that it wasn't on the agenda. It is traditionally held 15 minutes before the meeting begins, and Mayor Fry had said that they were waiting for one member of the council to walk in the door at the beginning of the meeting around 7 p.m. He did open the meeting with the Town Hall rather than moving into the regular meeting at straight up 7 p.m. This matters because there seems to be a discussion from three of the members about the Town Hall portion, people asking to be on the agenda, and protocol at council meetings.

I expect that the Town Hall Meeting will be on agendas in the future because the Council has seemed to be open to hearing from the public about matters that concern them. However, I need to point out that there is a difference between a Town Hall Meeting where citizens speak to the City Council but the comments are NOT on the record and citizens asking to be put on the agenda where their comments ARE a part of the official minutes. This matters because the next email tries to address this. Before reading the email though, please scroll up and see that a vote was taken before each member of the public was allowed to speak in the meeting. On a side note, Mayor Fry is established Town Hall Meetings for the Pike County Board of Commissioners when he was the Chairman. I think it's a good idea for any Board to hear from their constituents. But... if one wants their comments to be a part of the official record, it is necessary to contact the clerk three days in advance of the meeting to ask to be placed on the agenda and give the topic ahead of time.]

On Nov 4, 2022, at 11:12 AM, Council Member Angela Martin wrote as a response to Council Member Brown's email above: 

I have been on this council for almost a year now, and it saddens me that it appears every time we take one step forward to working together as a unified council, we take 2 steps backwards and continue to fail the taxpayers who elected us by not getting anything really accomplished. Last night's meeting was a perfect example of a lot of wasted time, because basic meeting protocols were not properly executed, and there were continuous interruptions from the audience in attendance.

[Note from the Editor: Again, I noted each unanimous vote from the council to allow citizens to speak in blue above at several different points in the meeting.]

I agree with Councilman Brown, that the public should be able to speak and voice their concerns and this is most definitely welcome and encouraged. However, there are meeting protocols for a reason, and staying at this meeting until 10pm because of the lack of concern for these protocols was asinine.

It's my understanding, and someone can correct me if I am wrong, but we have always left the time frame from 6:45pm - 7:00pm as the "Town Hall" time for open discussion with the public. Which I believe is a good idea and welcomed, but this should promptly end at 7:00pm, unless a motion is made to allow this to go beyond the time frame because a discussion arose that may be deemed important to current business. If there is a lengthy discussion on a pressing matter within the city that we need to have a good amount of public comment on, then a special Town Hall meeting should be scheduled on another date to allow everyone the time to speak.

On another note, if a citizen wants to speak during the council meeting, they need to follow the guidelines and place a request with the City Clerk to be added to the agenda 3 days prior to the meeting. If they would like to speak on a subject on the agenda during the meeting, then they need to raise their hand and a motion should be made to allow them to speak, but I believe the motion should only be granted if it directly pertains to the current subject we are speaking on. If the citizen requesting to speak gets off subject, then their time needs to be ended, and the meeting put back on track. If a citizen continues to blurt out during a meeting, then the meeting needs to be halted and the citizen asked to be silent, or if not, then they should be asked to leave the meeting. If we strictly adhere to these guidelines I believe we will actually get more accomplished.

Furthermore, I am not being accusatory, but last night's attendance seemed to be a bit staged, as some residents may have been asked to show up and continuously interject their opinions, even on matters that have already been settled. This cannot continue to happen, and as Councilman Brown stated, if there was a notification of an additional Town Hall time put out to the public to show last night, I would also like to see a copy of this.

I would love to see this council really begin to work together, even though we may all have a difference in opinions, I know we should all have the same goal of taking care of the citizens well being and the city's best interest, so finding a negotiable common ground really shouldn't be this difficult.

Thank you,
Angela Martin

[Note from the Editor: It WAS a long meeting, but I thought that protocol was followed as far as allowing the public to speak. (Feel free to drop me a line if you disagree and why, and I'll be happy to include it.) I applaud the Council for listening to their department heads and the public. Her point about Town Hall being from 6:45 to 7 p.m. is a good one and should be adhered to from here on out for the sake of time, and I expect the attorney and/or the mayor to call someone down if they are blurting out during a meeting. There was a ton of discussion, and only a small part of it was from members of the public.]

On Friday, November 4, 2022 at 11:54 AM, Steve Davis replied to Council Member Martin's email and wrote:

I agree

On Friday, November 4, 2022 at 1:52:00 PM, City Clerk Pamela Schoentag replied to everyone and asked for some clarification.


I have spent time reviewing the city charter, city ordinances, and GMA website for more information regarding protocol for town hall meetings and couldn’t find anything specific to such. I did find in a previous email where Rob had suggested that the city should consider adding this to its meeting protocol policy.
There was no advertisement regarding the town hall, as I was under the impression that the 15 minutes prior to every meeting was reserved for town hall, Mayor Fry, would you please confirm or deny this?

Thank you

[Note from the Editor: I put in an open records request to see if there had been any other discussion on this matter and was advised that there had not been. My thoughts are that the Town Hall Meeting should be listed out on the agenda like it has been in the past and that the city do the same as the county if the time isn't used, they sit there and wait for the meeting to begin at the regularly scheduled time. As for the rest of this, I'm frustrated but will keep attending meetings when I can until things straighten out. Everyone should be able to work together for the good of the community. It shouldn't be a my way or the highway approach. People should be listening to each other and talking things out even when there is disagreement.

And the people of Williamson need to be keeping an eye on what is going on. The City Council is speaking on your behalf. Are you happy with what is being said? Let them know either way. All too often, they never hear the good stuff. And my personal policy is to applaud the good stuff as much as I point out the bad stuff. Well, maybe I applaud the good stuff more because I want to see more of it. What about you?]

Response From Council Member Tom Brown to Pike County Times Editor Becky Watts

On Friday, Dec 2, 2022 at 2:43 p.m., John Brown wrote the following and CC'd the email to City Attorney Rob Morton,

Ms. Becky Watts 12/2/2022
Pike County Times

Ms. Watts,  

I send this email Regarding your recent update to the Meeting on November 3, 2022, for the City of Williamson and your specific comments in regards as to what your opinion of what transpired.  

First let me say that I appreciate someone from the press taking the time to participate in our form of Government. Having said that, I have a few comments and corrections.  

First, the townhall meeting you refer to in your comments was at best a violation of the State of Georgia’s Sunshine Laws; it is the opinion of the Attorney Generals office and I quote, “if a quorum of the City Council is at the townhall meeting, then it has the same notice, agenda and minute requirements as any other official meeting”. This is the opinion of Jennifer Colangelo, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Georgia.   

Since NO NOTICE OR ADVERTISEMENT of any kind was made of the townhall, nor was it on the Agenda, this begs a few questions.
How did you know there was going to be a townhall?
How did the speakers know of the townhall? Who informed them of the meeting?
Why didn’t you report the fact this townhall was held illegally according to the Sunshine Laws?
Isn’t the fact that only one of our citizens and one non-citizen were informed of the meeting and not all of the citizens news worthy? How can you even call this a town hall in your reporting, when no one else was given any notice or the chance to speak?

Second, you have mentioned multiple times that myself and two other council members have had few votes or ran unopposed, yet you never mention the other council members or the mayors lack of opposition or vote totals from their perspective elections. This very much appears to be discriminatory toward council members that live in Ashley Glen or are not your personal friends. While I welcome your scrutiny, it is obvious you are doing others bidding. In that instance, you are not reporting facts, you are stating your opinion. That is a very slippery slope you are going down, and at some point that is not fair reporting, and could become a potential legal issue.

You have written about the County’s purchase of the $12 thousand plus Christmas tree, and admonishing the county for not having a purchasing policy that would have prevented this purchase. Meanwhile, the City of Williamson since its inception, does not have a purchasing policy. I hope to finally get one approved after three more years of inaction. Where is your reporting on this issue?

Finally, I must correct an error in my math, for the record, the citizens or business owners in Williamson contribute approximately 87% of the revenues the city receives. Again, while I encourage all to share their input regarding city issues, our residents, business owners, deserve that their voice have more sway as to how the city is operated. As you stated in your write up about the Apartments in Zebulon, all are welcome to speak, but it is a benefit to bring a resident. We work the same way.  

At the end of the day, myself and the other council members you admonish, stepped up for our community, while some, like you, sit it the cheap seats and just throw stones. While you have that luxury, I do not, I am regulated by the oath I have taken and by the laws I swore to protect and defend.  

As you state in your write up, if you can provide any instance where I voted for anything that benefits me personally and not the citizens of this City, please provide the proof and quit the insinuation.  

Take a little time, read our charter, our ordinances and the state laws the govern our decisions and you might find, if you look at it without your obvious slant, that we do a difficult job as it is, it takes a lot of our time and we sure don’t do it for the money.  

Tom Brown

On Friday, Dec 02, 2022 at 04:50 p.m. I replied,


Thank you for your letter. I will include it on the Williamson City Council meeting page verbatim found here: www.pikecountytimes.com/secondary/williamson11.3.22.html I'll be happy to address your concerns in this reply as well. Since you have sent this to the city attorney, it is an open records document that I am CC'ing to the City Clerk to be a part of open records in the City of Williamson in case other city council members or members of the public would like to read it.

First to address your concern about the Town Hall Meeting. Someone else brought this concern to me about Town Hall Meetings and proper advertisement so I have researched it and made a suggestion that I hope to see at the next meeting. I suggested that the Williamson City Council do the same as the county on their agendas and meeting notices to the newspaper. The Town Hall Meeting is still not part of the regular meeting record, but it should be advertised properly to the public like the county does below or some variation thereof.

Regular Meeting AGENDA
Tuesday, November 29, 2022 - 6:30 PM
Courthouse, Main Courtroom, 16001 Barnesville Street, Zebulon, Georgia
Courthouse Doors on East/South Sides open at 6:00 p.m. Town Hall Meeting at 6:15 p.m.

I also said in the write up, "I expect that the Town Hall Meeting will be on agendas in the future because the Council has seemed to be open to hearing from the public about matters that concern them" and "My thoughts are that the Town Hall Meeting should be listed out on the agenda like it has been in the past and that the city do the same as the county if the time isn't used, they sit there and wait for the meeting to begin at the regularly scheduled time."

But since you've included the city attorney in this, I will let him know as well in this email. Please add this to the next agenda as a topic of the discussion if that is needed to correct this problem. My thoughts are that traditionally holding a Town Hall Meeting (as has been done since I've been attending about 9 months ago) and making sure that the Town Hall Meeting is properly advertised are two different things. I was under the impression that the Town Hall Meeting had been advertised in the print paper, but after further research earlier this week, I have been advised that it has not been and therefore needs to be.

Second, in reference to voting, as you wish... I'll add my reply to your letter verbatim with this information for the public to read.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATED 11.8.19: Official and Complete November 5, 2019 Election Results


The office of Mayor will be on the November ballot. Steve Fry is the currently in this seat.
Steve Fry has qualified to run for this seat and will be unopposed on the November ballot.

City Council 1 is currently held by Stephen Levin and will be on the November ballot.
Stephen Levin has qualified to run for this seat and will be unopposed on the November ballot.

City Council 3 is currently vacant and will be on the November ballot.
Donna Scoggins and John Brown qualified to run for this seat and will be on the November ballot.
John Brown received 47 votes.
Donna Scoggins received 28 votes.
John Brown is the winner of this race by 19 votes.

City Council 4 is currently held by Carol Berry and will be on the November ballot.
Carol Berry has qualified to run for this seat and will be unopposed on the November ballot.

City Council 5 is currently held by Brenda Bennett and will be on the November ballot.
Brenda Bennett has qualified to run for this seat and will be unopposed on the November ballot.

I don't have the election information readily available for current member Steve Davis, City Council 5, but if you want to send it to me, I'll be happy to include it. Some things I have and some I don't because the County Board of Elections came into place fairly recently.

As for the rest, I am trying to applaud the good when I see it and working together to have policies to direct employees, department heads, and elected leaders is a very good thing. Working together to ensure that your employees have necessary work items like a printer is a very good thing. I have learned a lot about how the city operates differently from the county through written policies and documentation that you assume I haven't read.

And last but not least, trying to limit public comment -- [Note from the Editor: The annotated agenda from the October 6, 2022 meeting tells where the comment about only allowing citizens who live in the city speak came from. In that meeting, Council Member Tom Brown asked the city attorney to "check legality of limiting public comment to just citizens of the city." The motion was made by Council Member Steve Davis and seconded by Council Member Angela Martin. The motion was approved 4-0.] -- is not a good thing though I gave the Board the benefit of the doubt when I said, "I expect that the Town Hall Meeting will be on agendas in the future because the Council has seemed to be open to hearing from the public about matters that concern them."

At the end of the day, I have not accused you or anyone else of voting for anything that benefits you personally, and I applaud those who run for office because being a public servant is a privilege as well as thankless job that only a few step up to the plate to do.

If you would like to address my writing in the future, I'll be happy to include your letters verbatim as a Letter to the Editor and link directly to my write ups on the City of Williamson City Council Meetings that I attend with a verbatim addition to the page itself--as I have done in the past.

Please let me know if you would like this letter to be published as a Letter to the Editor on Pike County Times. I will be happy to do that as well.

Becky Watts, Editor

The next meeting of Williamson City Council is scheduled for Thursday, December 8 at 7 p.m. at Williamson City Hall. The public is invited to attend.

Submitted 12.2.22