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|Pay hikes approved for Vidalia mayor, aldermen|
The Vidalia Town Council -- on a 3-2 vote -- passed an ordinance boosting the salaries of the mayor, alderman and chief of police.
The pay raises lift Mayor Hyram Copeland's annual salary $16,000 from $53,500 to $69,500; the police chief $10,100 from $44,900 to $55,000 annually; and aldermen from $250 to $600 monthly.
The vote was taken following a brief public hearing with only Audrey Gray offering the only comments on the matter.
Alderman Ricky Knapp and Jon Betts voted against the measure.
Mayor Hyram Copeland said the issue can only be raised every four years and requires the passage of an ordinance.
Copeland also addressed the issue of pay raises for city employees stating that a public meeting on the city's budget is scheduled for Monday, June 16th, 5:30 p.m.
"Let me ensure these employees that there will be a raise in that budget," said Copeland. "We invite anyone and everyone to come to that meeting."
Following a recent shooting in the vicinity of Danny's Lounge, Fire Chief Jack Langston brought up the issue of safety for emergency responders.
"I have concerns about sending our EMT's and paramedics to an unsafe situation," said Langston. "I'm not happy about sending our people down there. What is our legal obligation?"
Copeland advised that he would be meeting with the owners of the lounge and new Police Chief Tapper Hendricks.
"It will be taken care of and handled very quickly, period," said Copeland. "It's that simple."
In other business, the board gave unanimous support to Amanda Taylor, director of the Concordia Parish Library, for the upcoming millage renewal July 19th. Library board members were also present.
"We get 93 percent of our revenue from the millage," said Taylor. "We have kept our promise the last 10 years. We want to give the people of the parish another good 10 years."
"I want to commend you all for the work you've done -- not only in Vidalia -- but the parish," said Copeland.
The board also agreed to implement a policy requiring that major electrical customers share the cost of connection. City Manager Ken Walker said that with the larger customers a transformer and a backup transformer are installed.
"It can cost up to $100,000 to turn them on," said Walker.
The new policy would require those customers to share the cost of one transformer and half of the connection cost.
Eleanor Talley asked that the city follow the example of Ruston in requiring new commercial construction to provide "green spaces."
"All of our new businesses should have that," said Talley. "You can look from one side of the street to the other and see the difference."
Copeland agreed to look into revising the town's current ordinances.
The following licenses were approved:
-Occupational: Randall's Cajun Kitchen, 1402 Carter Street, Allen Randall.
-Occupational: Cherry Blossom Care Agency, 4006 Carter Street, Dena Green.
-Sign Application: El Ranchero Mexican Restaurant.
-Liquor/Beer License: McDonough Liquors.
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