The M&O property tax, which assists in financing Cartersville's fire and police departments, is unchanged from last year at 1.38 mills. The BID millage rate, which is a self-imposed tax by downtown businesses, is also unchanged at 2.50 mills. It is a tax levied only on businesses within the Downtown Development Authority and its funds go toward improvements to the downtown area with signs, benches and other beautification projects.
No Cartersville residents stepped forward to speak during the final hearings for the three millage rate votes.
A new amendment to the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance saw its first reading. The amendment would allow pottery and art studios to hold events where their customers could bring their own beer or wine to lessons. Local business owners said their customers were asking about such events. The Alcohol Control Board drafted an amendment with the assistance of Keith Lovell, one of the city's attorneys, and sent the amendment to the council for consideration.
During the work session prior to the regular meeting, council members were concerned about who would be accountable for the alcohol and any drunk customers, and Mayor Matt Santini questioned the fairness of charging the studios $200 a year for essentially serving alcohol while restaurants paid $1,800 a year for the same privilege.
"The only accountability would be they have to take possession of the alcohol, and when they serve it, they come under the state laws and city laws, which relate to serving a minor or providing somebody too much alcohol. They can be cited for those or sued in those situations," Lovell said on the question of accountability.
As written, the amendment requires studio owners to take possession of the alcohol when it enters their business. The owners must also serve the alcohol, which is a necessary step to bring them under the city's current alcoholic beverage ordinance. The amendment would bar anyone under 21 from taking part in any event where alcohol will be present.
Council member Lori Pruitt tried to draw a distinction between a studio and a restaurant serving alcohol.
"The distinction here is that the business is not making money selling alcohol. They probably will make money because people will come to the event, but they aren't charging $8 a glass for a glass of wine," she said.
Pruitt also noted how such events were "very common."
Lovell reminded the city council, during their regular meeting, that any class or gathering involving alcohol would not happen during store hours.
"One thing to remember is the way this ordinance will be drafted is it is allowed after their normal hours of operation," he said. "These will be when they have classes that will not be open to the general public. There will be pre-signed up individuals -- I guess they can have walk-ins as well if they wanted to -- but there will be a scheduled class time where everybody coming in there will know this is allowed."
Business owners Samantha Centers and Gail Freeman asked the council to approve the amendment, saying their customers were very interested in having the events and it would boost their business. Freeman also asked for the yearly $200 fee to be reduced.
Santini said the council would consider the amendment.
The council also approved amendments to the city ordinance's general provisions and municipal court provisions. The changes pass along state surcharge fees for processing citations and fines to those fined, and institute new technology and administration fees. For many years Cartersville had taken the 30 to 40 percent state surcharge out of its share of a citation, but the council decided to increase its fines so that anyone cited would pay the surcharge out of their own pocket.
That increase, along with the two additional fees, will support the city court once it is separated from the police department after the new public safety headquarters is opened.
Other council business included:
* the first reading of an amendment to the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance related to identification requirements;
* the first reading of an amendment to the Administration Ordinance in regards to record retention;
* approving a contract with Southland Engineering for work on the Etowah Riverwalk-Leake Mounds in the sum of $78,879;
* approving a change order for Fire Station 4 in the total sum of $28,298;
* approving a change order for the public safety headquarters in the total sum of $48,175.02;
* approving the renewal of worker's compensation insurance;
* approving a janitorial contract with ICS of Suwanee in the sum of $3,785 per month;
* approving a contract with Southeastern Natural Gas Services of Rome to complete the gas main extension to Cass-White Road in the sum of $254,992.75;
* approving a second contract with Southeastern Natural Gas Services to complete a gas main extension along Main Street in the sum of $121,481.40;
* approving the purchase of 5,000 feet of pipe for the gas department in the sum of $65,750;
* approving the repair bill of a city bucket truck in the sum of $7,548; and
* approving the purchase of a new transformer for $5,844.
The Cartersville City Council's next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 16 at 7 p.m. at city hall.