Discussions regarding filling the empty seat on the Canton City Council continued during Thursday’s council meeting, with discussion on cost of the election, the electoral process, and a possible draft contract between Canton and the Cherokee County Elections Office.
During the June 4 meeting, council members discussed various dates and deadlines to hold a special called election during the Nov. 3 presidential election, should they choose to do so to fill the current vacant Ward 2 Council seat. Council also discussed the possibility of appointing a council member, which could be done at or after the Jan. 7, 2021 Council meeting. The seat has been vacant since now-Mayor Bill Grant resigned from the post last August.
At Thursday's meeting, City Manager Billy Peppers discussed with the council how a possible draft contract between the city and the Cherokee County Elections Office could read, should the council decide to hold an election.
“If the council wishes to call an election, then between now and July 2 the council needs to get a copy of an agreement with the elections office, Peppers said. "The way our contract has previously read with the Cherokee County Elections Office, and is likely to read in this case, is we pay for an election based on 50% of voters at a precinct, regardless if they are city voters or non-city voters. This will be a more expensive election from what the city is used to."
Council members discussed in detail their thoughts and feelings on the possible election, as well as their concerns regarding what the cost of the election could be. Council members JoEllen Wilson and Nick Estes both expressed their views of not wanting to circumvent the electoral process by appointing a member to the vacant seat.
Council member Brooke Schmidt voiced her concerns over the possible cost of the election, with council member Sandy McGrew agreeing.
"I'm very hesitant to spend the money because I am concerned about the finances of the city and our taxpayers burdens, with that being said I am very conflicted," McGrew said. "I would like to see the contract from the elections office and possibly have a special called meeting for more discussion."
Peppers suggested to the council that the city gets in contact with the elections group to put together a draft contract, as well as a draft resolution, should the council decide they want to move forward with an election.
"We need the contract so we can sit down and talk about what the costs are and say based on these costs and historic data on presidential elections, this is what we anticipate the cost of the election will be," Peppers said.
City staff will work on putting together a draft of the contract and resolution for the upcoming July 2 council meeting. Both could then be approved at the July 16 meeting or at a special called meeting by July 30.
Schmidt said council members want the seat to be filled, but want to make the best decision.
In an unrelated matter, the council voted to amend city law to allow package sales of beer and wine by restaurants.
During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill Grant has temporarily allowed establishments who possess a license to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises to sell beer and wine by the package. Such sales will now be allowed permanently.
Section 6-148 of city law will now state that “persons holding a license to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises may sell beer and wine by the package to any customer who has also purchased food from the restaurant. The requirements of this section shall not apply to the sales of consumption on the premises by a retail package licensee that is not subject to the requirements for the sale of food in order to sell for consumption on the premises.”
A resolution accepting the streets or portions of streets within River Green Chestnut Glen for city maintenance was also approved Thursday. At the last city council meeting, it was determined by staff that River Green Chestnut Glen met the requirements as set forth in the Unified Development Code of Canton, pertaining to the streets and rights-of-way. Providence Lane and Providence Court will have at least a 50-foot right-of-way and drainage ways within the rights-of-way of River Green Chestnut Glen.