Goulart informed council members that some Fort Oglethorpe police officers placed in supervisory roles have to tell other officers of the same rank what to do. These officers also do not receive extra pay for additional responsibilities, he said.
The department lacks mid-level supervisory ranks like corporal and sergeant, Goulart explained.
“We have no rank between a patrolman and a lieutenant,” he said. “Occasionally you will have a shift without a lieutenant on duty.”
There needs to be an officer in charge in certain circumstances, someone who can delegate responsibility such as during a crime scene investigation, Goulart said.
Council member Johnnie “Red” Smith commended efforts to correctly align rank with the appropriate level of responsibility and compensation in the police department. Smith is retired from a 28-year career in law enforcement.
“I’m glad to see it,” he said.
Goulart also told the council that a Fort Oglethorpe Police Depatment detective has agreed to perform code enforcement duties. He said code enforcement officer Jill Lacy “has a full plate” dealing with storm water issues and another code enforcement officer is sorely needed to help clean up the city.
Goulart said it is easy to see who in Fort Oglethorpe is not complying with city codes.
“I felt we needed a seasoned officer who knows how to deal with the public,” he said. Goulart said the detective would work with residents, to counsel them and give them an opportunity to comply with city codes. Should a resident refuse to comply then the resident could be cited for non-compliance and given a date to appear in municipal court, he said.
The detective’s salary would be paid from the police department budget, and he could still be given special police assignments as needed, the city manager said. Goulart said the police department budget would probably increase.
Goulart also informed the council that Erlanger at Hutcheson has approached the city about having Fort Oglethorpe police officers provide hospital security. The hospital has been exploring tighter security measures since a shooting in a hospital intensive care waiting room left two women dead in January, he said.
“They (Hutcheson) want to be sure they have someone with arrest powers and access to other agencies immediately,” Goulart said. “And they want to make sure there is someone there 24/7 that can address any issue that they have. We’re trying to work with them and come up with some sort of proposal.”
Goulart stressed these talks are in the preliminary stages and he wanted to have “something concrete” before bringing it before the council.
“There’s only been one meeting,” he said. The city is “gathering the numbers” to provide Hutcheson a cost estimate, Goulart told council members.
Mayor Lynn Long told Goulart he first heard of this initial discussion from others and in future expects to be kept in the loop on such matters.
“If there are things that are going to be (talked about) on the street I want to be the first to know,” Long said.
In other city business:
· Following an executive session in which the council discussed personnel issues, Goulart was authorized to contract the services of a consultant at a cost not to exceed $22,000. After the council adjourned, Goulart told reporters he was not at liberty to discuss why a consultant would be hired. Long said a consultant would be contracted to help negotiate the redistribution of local option sales tax (LOST) revenues.
“We’ve got to get our fair share of the pie,” the mayor said.
Long said LOST must be redistributed every 10 years after the U.S. Census is taken.
Goulart explained in a phone interview that LOST distribution is negotiated between a county and its largest municipality, in this case Catoosa and Fort Oglethorpe. Ringgold would be considered an absentee city, he said. As for the part of Fort Oglethorpe that lies in Walker County, the city would be considered an absentee municipality there, according to Goulart.
· During his comment portion of the meeting, the mayor said the city benefits from having a diverse council, with each council member contributing various career expertise. Long assigned each council member to a particular city department, requesting they observe operations and report their findings to the council next month. Long has scheduled a work session to be held at 1 p.m. March 21 at city hall. The purpose for the council’s review and subsequent discussion is to help make Fort Oglethorpe “a stronger, better city,” the mayor said.
According to the city charter, council members may not manage city officers or employees. City officers and employees are to be supervised “solely” by the city manager. Elected officials are only allowed to interfere with city administration “for the purpose of inquiries and investigations.” The charter states, “… neither the city council nor its members shall give orders to any such officer or employee, either publicly or privately.”
· The council denied a request to rezone Jacquelyn Stafford’s Cloud Springs Road property from residential to commercial. The vote was 4-1 with council member Eddie Stinnett voting for the rezoning.
Stafford said she requested the rezoning so she would have a better chance of selling her home, which has been on the market for about a year. She said there are other businesses along that stretch of road already, including Dead Girlz Tattoo & Boutique. Stafford said the traffic is increasingly heavy along Cloud Springs Road.
“Unfortunately as the city grows there’s going to be more situations like this,” said C.G. Griffith, Stafford’s real estate agent with Crye-Leike Real Estate Services in Fort Oglethorpe. Griffith added that Stafford must inform any potential buyers that in the future her house “would be taken by the state when the four-lane goes through.”
Several of Stafford’s neighbors spoke in opposition to the rezoning. Neighbors said their Beaver Road properties border the rear of Stafford’s property. Making Stafford’s property commercial would devalue their homes and could allow an undesirable business to locate there, they said.