With a rare Wednesday meeting, Statesboro City Council will be restored to five members, after three and a half months with just four councilmen.
Derek Duke, who won the District 5 special election council runoff June 19, is scheduled to be sworn in at the beginning of today’s 5 p.m. meeting in the council chambers at City Hall. Bulloch County Probate Court Judge Lorna DeLoach will administer the oath of office, according to the agenda.
“I look forward to being sworn in so I can begin the work of representing District 5,” Duke said in an election-night statement. “I pledge to work with the mayor, council and city department heads as we continue to make Statesboro a city that soars.”
Former Councilman Travis Chance represented the district for more than 10 years, but resigned March 6, citing plans for his family to move to a home outside the city limits but also announcing his candidacy for a Bulloch County Board of Commissioners seat.
Chance is now in a runoff with Commissioner Walter Gibson for the Republican nomination to Gibson’s seat on the county board. That runoff, for Seat 2-B will be decided July 24 by Republican-ballot voters in county District 2, and the winner will face Democratic nominee Adrienne Dobbs in the Nov. 6 general election.
Duke was originally one of three candidates in a May 22 special city election.
This Wednesday’s meeting indirectly takes the place of a meeting that would have fallen on July 3. City Council’s regular meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. and the third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m., but meetings that fall near major holidays are traditionally cancelled.
After scratching next Tuesday’s meeting weeks ago, Mayor Jonathan McCollar and council members more recently called this special meeting in an effort to move forward on certain items.
Development of the city’s priorities for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, is one of those items. Not to be confused with the new transportation tax, or T-SPLOST, the general-use SPLOST now under discussion is an existing tax.
But the Bulloch County government and the cities of Statesboro, Brooklet, Portal and Register must agree on shares and project types before they schedule a referendum to extend the SPLOST for six years.
A recently revised list, included in the agenda packet, shows estimated costs totaling a little over $14 million for Statesboro-specific projects plus $11.8 million in joint city-county projects related to the landfill and waste transfer station.
Discussions on four amendments to the Alcohol Beverages Ordinance have continued off and on through several meetings without a vote. The council heard from a few restaurant and bar owners, as well as representatives of the city’s Alcohol Advisory Board and the Bulloch Alcohol and Drug Council, during a 7:30 a.m. June 12 public input session.
Most of the talk focused on an amendment that would let people under 21 years old, particularly those ages 18-20, into places designated as bars.
All four amendments are now on Wednesday afternoon’s agenda, but listed for a new “first reading” and not for a second reading and expected passage.
The version of the 18-20 amendment in the council’s packet is one that closely tracks state law, defining a “bar” as a place “that derives 75 (percent) or more total annual gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.” It includes a local suggestion of different wording requiring that such a place “derives less than 25 (percent) of total annual gross revenue from the sale of food prepared in a properly provisioned on-premises kitchen” or that the food percentage could be raised by the mayor and council.
Patrons under 21 would be denied admission to bars defined this way, except for live, musical performances with an admission charge.
Copies of passages from Albany’s and Savannah’s city ordinances related to this same issue are also in the packets for reference.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.