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2017-05-17 / Front Page

Swamp Tails seeking up to $150,000 tax relief

CITY OF ONEONTA
by Jim Kilgore

The Oneonta City Council has scheduled a public hearing on a tax abatement request for Swamp Tails restaurant. City manager-economic developer Ed Lowe presented the request, before the council agreed to a hearing on May 23 at 5:15 p.m.

Lowe explained the request conforms to state law which permits businesses with significant investments and employees to seek tax relief. The law limits the abatement to three years or $150,000 whichever might occur first and returns 3 cents of the city's 4-cent sales tax.

Lowe listed the business's overall investment in excess of $1 million and anticipated gross revenues of more than $1.8 million. Its employment should exceed 30 workers. He expects an eventual similar request from the new Zaxby's under construction. He also announced the envisioned expansion of the city's designated entertainment district into portions of Second Avenue East from its original First Avenue designation.

The council approved a requested resolution from the Alabama Department of Transportation. Under that, the city agrees to requirements designed to help AL DOT obtain possible federal assistance for almost 3.5 miles of repaving on Ala 75 within the city.

Lowe announced the Blount County Commission has contracted to contribute $1 million to the Wallace State-Oneonta campus center. He said the county will provide an initial $500,000 payment with the remaining $500,000 spread over the next five years. ACE plans

Lowe announced the city, which has graduated from the Alabama Cities of Excellence (ACE) program, will continue participation in post-graduate activities. The council approved the city's five-year strategic plan, considered in public discussion earlier.

Councilors have set a downtown master plan meeting for July 11 at the Little Brick Church. Councilman Richard Phillips, who has spearheaded an effort to establish a city historical commission, asked to place that topic on the next council meeting agenda.

Prior to that and the May 23 public hearing on the tax abatement request, the council agreed to set a 5 p.m. session to consider A-Med Ambulance Service's request to be made a primary provider to the city and be placed on the city's regular service rotation. Personnel

Fire chief Arthur Willis announced firefighters Jonathan Ledbetter and Zach Page had completed EMT course work and passed the national registry on their first attempt. He also announced Ledbetter's appointment to the Herzing University's EMS Program Advisory Board.

Willis and Ledbetter reviewed the area's inaugural youth firefighter program now in its third year. The program introduces firefighting careers to 14 to 18 year-olds. Its success has led Alabama Fire College to consider implementing a similar statewide program.

Upon the recommendation of Councilman Nathaniel Butler, the council hired Melinda Anderton, Ana Chappelle, and Christopher McGhee as additional seasonal lifeguards. Members also reappointed Chris Harvey to the Oneonta Utilities Board and accepted resignations from the city beautification board offered by Mark Phelps and Carrie Towns.

Police Chief Charles Clifton updated councilors on several matters, winning approval to advertise for a full-time officer to replace the recently resigned Brent Bender. He asked the council to consider leasing nine tasers with new replacements provided every five years for $4,700 a year. The first-year lease cost would be reduced with trade-ins of the department's older tasers.

Clifton asked permission to surplus some department items and place those for sale at auction at the Blount County-Oneonta Agri-Business center. Public safety director-administrator Brandon Horton noted that the council could not take a blanket action on that request, as it would need specific items and serial numbers to act.

Mayor Ross Norris and councilors Hal Blackwood, Danny Robinson, and Tonya Rogers joined fellow councilmen Butler and Phillips for the May 9 meeting. The council holds its regular sessions the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 5:30 p.m. in city hall.

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