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Not yet fully knowing the fiscal impact of COVID-19, the Cairo City Council acted quickly this week to defer just over $300,000 in principal and interest payments on three loans the city has with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority.
Chris Addleton, Cairo city manager, says the loans were taken to finance the new Airport Water Treatment Plant, the new A.M.I. smart utility meters, and the rehabilitation of the MacIvor Drive Water Plant. The loans were for $3,586,710; $1,189,645; and $2,500,000 respectively.
“This is G.E.F.A.’s way of providing some assistance to local governments during the pandemic,” Addleton said this week.
The city manager notes that this is not loan forgiveness, but merely a deferment of principal and interest payments for a period of six months.
In order to take advantage of the debt relief, loan modifications have to be approved and the council voted unanimously to approve the loan modifications and authorize Mayor Howard Thrower to execute the documents.
In other business Monday night, the council:
‰Issued a 60-day moratorium on the installation of solar panels within the corporate limits of Cairo. Addleton requested the moratorium in order to give Thomas L. Lehman, city council attorney, sufficient time to research and propose any changes to the city’s code of ordinances. According to the city manager, the city has been contacted recently concerning both rooftop and ground units.
‰Heard concerns from Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Cox about a sign in the front yard of a residence located at 811 Fourth St. N.W. Addleton said the building department had already investigated the sign and it is a decorative sign and not a sign advertising a commercial business in a residential zone. Cox questioned if the city’s sign ordinance would permit such a sign in a residential zone. Addleton asked for the council’s direction concerning signs made from pallets that are in the yards of many Cairo homes. Cox suggested the issue be researched and if the pallet signs are prohibited then they should also be addressed. “We need to get a written ruling on it,” Cox said.
‰Accepted on a 3-1 vote the low bid of $75,464 from Sheffield Office Products of Duluth and Albany for the new Cairo Police Department headquarters. Other bids received were $83,506 from Ponder’s of Thomasville and $101,498.26 from Advent Business Interiors of Leesburg and Macon. Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas voted against the purchase because Addleton is taking the funds from the city’s Municipal Competitive Trust Account, which Douglas says the council had designated strictly for capital projects. The veteran councilman said he did not consider new furniture to be a capital project. “I don’t know where else we can get the money. We have exhausted funds from the sale of our assets in C.N.S. on the building, which ended up being $3.7 million,” Addleton said.