Midway City Manager Auburn Ford discussed a big problem the city is facing with residents who do not have current contractor Waste Pro garbage pickup and are instead burning their trash or throwing it into ditches.
"There's a great need for mandatory garbage pickup. We have to have the means to keep our community clean. There's garbage all over the streets," he said.
Ford said he would look into (garbage) trucks with booms and bring a feasibility study back to the next meeting for the council to consider whether to perform their own garbage pickup. "We have to have a revenue source," said Ford.
He told the council members to expect a backlash from residents. He also added that the city will have to 'step up' code enforcement on the issue with fines for burning and dumping trash.
When asked by a Midway resident about the fines, Ford said it could be enforced by liens on their homes or by having an outside source to collect the fines with a percentage taken.
Ford also brought forward a proposed plan to start an involuntary annexation process because area residents and businesses are receiving Midway police and fire services without helping to pay for them. "We legally have the right to do it," said the city manager.
Ford said the upcoming city election on April 25th will not have Chuck Willis back on the ballot because he does not qualify by his residence. He also has no mailbox, said Ford.
The city manager asked all council members to get involved in lobbying the legislature for their $2.1 million request to get city sanitary sewer operations going in Phase 1.
The project was ranked as a #1 priority by the Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners and signed off on by the county's six municipalities because they recognized the importance of sewers to the area. He cautioned that there might be a special session or the governor might veto the entire state budget.
In an action about former police chief Tom Murray, Ford reported that Murray's attorney has filed a Notice of Intent to sue the city. Murray's attorney has offered a pre-suit settlement negotiation to settle the issue before the lawsuit. Murray's attorney did not offer a reason for suing and there may be an issue included in a previous lawsuit by
Murray against the city that might show Murray promised not to sue the city again.
Ford advised the council not to act on the claim at this moment.
Council member Zach Woods said that it was no surprise the Murray is suing the city again. The city's attorney said he wants to see a court reporter's transcript of the meeting when Murray was terminated. The matter will be discussed in an executive session.
Council member David Knight said that he feels very confident that police chief Murray was properly terminated. "We don't yet know of all the violations that have taken place in the police department," said Knight.
Council members unanimously approved hiring the interim attorney to succeed former attorney Henry Hunter.
Acting-police chief Captain Hill said he had developed an FTO (field-training officer) program that is now in place. He also said that the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement (FDLE) has completed a technical audit of Midway's police department and it had passed, which the auditors had not expected. The only change required, FDLE said, was that the police department's server must be separate from city hall.
Hill also announced that the sheriff's department is going to a new digital dispatching system and that the city would have to get that system as they do all the dispatching for the city.
The city's fire chief announced that there will be an activity at Hilltop Park on M.L. King Blvd. that will also include the health department and emergency management officials. The event will take place on April 22nd from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Items for children will be available with items donated from the Tallahassee Fire Department as well as free food and book bags.
He also mentioned that the county offers teaching courses for firefighters to become state-certified, which helps lower homeowners' insurance costs.
The chief cautioned that with the recent and recurring dry season, burning fires is very dangerous and that in one recent incident it caused a neighbor's house to burn down.
The city manager offered that the county's economic development council has said that there is a possibility of Midway getting a seafood processing plant that would bring some 60 jobs to the city.