The Cedartown City Commission voted unanimously at its Monday, Dec. 12 meeting to put the question to voters.
The Cedartown ordinance closely follows the statewide language approved by the Georgia Legislature earlier this year, and parallels the requirements of an ordinance already enacted in Rockmart. Voters there approved a Sunday sales referendum in November.
As presented to Cedartown voters, the ordinance will allow package sales of beer and wine between the hours of 12:30 p.m. (a half hour after noon) and 11:30 p.m. on Sundays.
A second referendum, if approved by voters, will allow restaurants to sell beer and wine with meals during those hours.
Council members expressed some reservations about some parts of the referendum, but noted that while a municipality has some flexibility with the regulations, the core parts of the referendum must adhere to the state model.
Councilman Gary Martin added that while he personally opposes Sunday sales of alcohol, he was willing to put it before the voters to decide the issue.
“I will approve the referendum, but I’ll be the first to vote against the ordinance at the polls,” Martin said.
In other business, the commission heard from George Anderson, executive director fo the Ethics in Government Group in Rome, who expressed concerns about the transition of Polk Medical Center to management by a group that includes Floyd Medical Center. The hospital had been managed by the parent company of Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome for 15 years, but the local hospital authority approved a new agreement with FMC last month.
Anderson railed against the agreement as a bad deal for the taxpayers of Polk County. He also urged the city commission to seek new legal counsel, arguing that the city’s use of the same legal firm as the hospital authority -- McRae, Stegall, Peek, Harman, Smith and Manning, LLP – creates a conflict of interest.
“Who is the law firm representing the city residents?” Anderson said. “We do not have an attorney representing the citizens in this deal.”
The city commission listened to Anderson’s presentation without comment. Anderson distributed copies of a PILOT agreement (payment in lieu of taxes) that is part of the hospital management deal.
Anderson claims that taxpayers could be hit with added expensese related to the development of a new Polk County hospital, which is to be built at some point on property east of Cedartown off U.S. Hwy. 278. Anderson further said the PILOT agreement is vague on specifics.
“Utilities for the replacement hospital will have to come from the City of Cedartown … water, sewer lines,” Anderson said. “This is money the taxpayers don’t have.”
Also at this meeting, the commission:
-- Approved a horse riding ordinance that requires that any use of horses on city streets and sidewalks, such as a parade, include a provision for removal of horse manure. This policy was already in place at the recent Christmas parade.
-- Approved a new ordinance establishing at Southside Enterprise Zone. A public hearing on the zoning ordinance was held Dec. 6 at Cedartown City Hall. A map of the zone is available for review at city hall. Residential property within the zone may qualify for tax abatements in support of renovations and other improvements.
-- Voted to reappoint George Mundy to serve on the Development Authority of Polk County for a four-year tem, expiring Dec. 15, 2015.
-- Approved a city staff proposal to contract with the Pitney Bowes company for a postage meter. City staff said the change will save the city about $155 per month.