Tuesday night’s City Council meeting took place in a Zoom video conference, with councilmembers calling in from their homes.
“I’m very proud of our community, the way they’ve rallied behind some of the requests that have been made, either from us or from the governor,” said Mayor Ron Anders. “People need to be at home. Now is not the time for people to hang out in their front yards in groups of 10 to 20. It’s certainly not the time for young people to play beer pong."
There was an opportunity for citizens to speak with the Council about agenda items during Citizen's Communication. Citizen's Open Forum, which is a time for citizens to speak on any topic that may or may not be on the agenda, was not offered.
During the virtual Council meeting, Ward 2 Council Member Kelley Griswold wanted to further discuss a contract to purchase surveillance devices for the new Auburn Public Safety Building. City Manager Jim Buston clarified that the contract is to purchase licenses for surveillance cameras, not the cameras themselves. The cameras have already been purchased by the City and the contract unanimously passed.
The City is purchasing a new truck for the Public Works Department to facilitate social distancing within the department, Buston said. The vehicle will be required by the City regardless of the current pandemic, but it is being purchased early so employees can operate individually.
“This is an item that would not usually be on the agenda right now,” Buston said. “We’re trying to keep our Auburn employees distanced, so instead of sending out two or three people in a truck, we’re trying to give everyone that needs to go out a vehicle.”
As the Council discussed an ordinance for Lee County to continue to collect property taxes that fund schools, Griswold asked how the Council could retake control of funds that are currently under the control of the Auburn Board of Education. Buston clarified the Council is able to take back control of spending with the educational tax money and the discussion was set aside for another time.
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The Council has previously dedicated and additional $5 million in tax dollars to the school system in addition to the $5 million dedicated to the school system by state law, said Finance Director Allison Edge. The Council unanimously approved the ordinance allowing for Lee County to collect the taxes.
Ward 1 Council Member Connie Fitch-Taylor asked for an explanation about the difference between the two educational taxes, as their uses were not differentiated in the agenda.
The two educational taxes were instated at different times, Buston said. Both are property taxes to be spent on the school system. One of the taxes covers debt service while the other is a general fund.
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