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Statesboro Council to meet on GS campus
City to consider contract with local-issues lobbyists
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The next regular meeting of Statesboro City Council, Jan. 15 at 5:30 p.m., will be held in an unusual location, the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center on the Georgia Southern University campus.

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, Mayor Jonathan McCollar announced that he and council members want to hold a few meetings in venues other than City Hall this year.

“I know it’s my hope and the hope of other individuals that I’ve talked to up here that we’re able to take our council meeting to different points within the city to give opportunity for everyone throughout the community to engage and interact with those that represent them,” he said.

The exact location inside the Nessmith-Lane Center will be announced later. It may not be the ballroom but a classroom still capable of holding 200 or more people, McCollar said after Wednesday’s meeting.

After the Tuesday, Jan. 15, meeting, one or two other meetings during 2019 may be held at sites other than City Hall, he said.

City Council ordinarily meets twice each month, on the first Tuesday at 9 a.m. and the third Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. But since Tuesday was New Year’s Day, the first meeting of 2019 was held Wednesday morning.


Lobbying firm

One item expected to appear on the Jan. 15 agenda will be a presentation by Joe Tanner & Associates, a “government affairs consulting,” or lobbying, firm. The firm represents the interests of local governments and corporations to the Georgia General Assembly and state and federal agencies.

Consideration of a motion to contract with Joe Tanner & Associates appeared as the 21st item, just before “other business,” on Wednesday’s agenda. But McCollar asked the council members present to table this to Jan. 15, and they did so by a 4-0 vote.

Jerry Keen, president and CEO of Joe Tanner & Associates, had spoken briefly to the council at its Nov. 20 meeting. Joe D. Tanner, who served 26 years in Georgia’s state government, including two separate tenures as head of the Department of Natural Resources, is the firm’s founder and chairman.

“Other cities we’re competing with to get business, they’re using lobbyist organizations to keep them in front of state lawmakers and federal lawmakers to get in additional funding for different projects that they have within their communities,” McCollar said, “and so if Statesboro is going to be able to compete on the same level, then we’re going to have to use some of the same tactics.”


November ballot

The city had no newly elected officials to swear-in Wednesday. But 2019 is a municipal election year, and the council set a candidate qualifying fee for a Nov. 5 nonpartisan ballot for three of its seats. These are the seats in District 2, held by Councilman Sam Lee Jones; District 3, held by Councilman Jeff Yawn; and District 5, held by Councilman Derek Duke. Both Jones and Yawn were first elected by qualifying unopposed in 2015.

Duke, who won a special election runoff last June, is now completing the unexpired term of former Councilman Travis Chance. So Duke has to stand for election again this year if he wants to continue for a four-year term.

Candidates can’t qualify until the designated week in August. As provided in state law, the $227 fee is based on 3 percent of a council salary.

The mayor, District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum and District 4 Councilman John Riggs have now started the second year of their current four-year terms and are not up for election.


Planning board

Also Wednesday, the council appointed Sean Fox as a new member of the Statesboro Planning Commission and reappointed Russell Rosengart to a second four-year term on the commission, which hears zoning requests and makes formal recommendations to the council.

Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

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