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Oxford discusses watering penalties
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 Strict penalties for not complying with state watering regulations and fire department policy on allowing sirens and lights to be used on personal vehicles were some of the topics of discussion at Monday night's Oxford City Council meeting

The proposed three-tiered penalty schedule for those reported violating the state watering limits would have issued a warning for first time offenders, a $200 fine for second time offenders and would have disconnected the water supply for third time offenders.

Council member Hoyt Oliver asked if citizens would be able to contest the fines in court like they could with traffic tickets. Council member Terry Smith said it would follow the same kind of process as a traffic ticket.

City Attorney David Strickland suggested the council might consider applying a fine that third time offenders would have to pay to get their water turned back on. He informed the council that with most ordinances they were allowed to charge a maximum fine of $1,000.

Further discussion of the policy was postponed until the March 17 workshop session.

The issue of allowing volunteer firemen to use sirens and lights on personal vehicles was raised during discussion of adopting the fire department's standard operating procedure.

Jason Stribling, chief of Oxford's volunteer fire department, said not allowing volunteers to use lights and sirens on personal vehicles might slow response time.

Mayor Jerry Roseberry said Newton County Fire Chief Mike Satterfield had told to him the policy in the NCFD was not to allow sirens and lights on personal vehicles.

Police Chief Clark Miller said he had called the fire marshal's office and state fire academy and both had indicated the trend throughout the state was to move away from allowing that because of insurance and liability reasons.

Discussion and amendment of the standard operating procedure was also postponed to the workshop session.

The council also voted to apply for a Community Development Block Grant and to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, a low-interest loan program run by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, to help pay for the federally mandated replacement of the city's water lines. The water lines were mostly installed around the 1960s, said Frank Sherrill of Hightower Consulting Engineers. The city would apply for about $466,000 from the CDBG program, a grant program run by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and $246,000 from the DWSRF loan, said Sherrill, who had recommended applying for both. The total cost of replacing the lines was estimated more than $700,000, according to council member Terry Smith.

A public hearing for the CDBG was held on Tuesday morning but was not attended by any citizens.