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Porterdale discusses possible new city hall
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The Porterdale City Council met Tuesday evening to discuss several points of business including the possibility of purchasing the portable building previously used by MacIntosh Bank in Covington to serve as a possible government building.

Currently, city officials operate out of both the existing city hall building as well as rented office space in the Cotton Warehouse building near the Porterdale Mill Lofts.

Mayor Bobby Hamby presented the idea after MacIntosh officials approached him with the possibility of selling the city the building at a reduced price.

"We've talked about a new government building for years," Hamby said. "We haven't been in the position to build one yet, but it's something we've wanted to look into for some time. This would be an opportunity to give us a building for a while until we are maybe able to build a permanent structure."

No financial terms have been discussed as the meeting was an informal discussion, and Hamby said it's too early to speculate whether the city will purchase the building. Still, the new building would allow the city to work under one roof and would be a significant upgrade from the existing facility.

Hamby added the existing government building, which doubles as the location for city council meetings as well as Porterdale's judicial center, could be converted for a multiuse city building.

Councilwoman Arline Chapman agreed, adding the new building would make a great addition to downtown Porterdale.

"The new building would add a tremendous amount of benefit to the city," she said. "Along with the new building, we would be able to use city hall as a meeting place for other functions."

Hamby said the new building would fit nicely in the vacant lot next to city hall, but the city would have to determine if the site could sustain the structure.

"We're just talking about it right now and seeing if it would be feasible and whether we could do a lease-option or what," Hamby said. "We are going to plan tours so the city council members can walk through the building. After we do all the research, we'll see if it works for us."

Employees receive raises, will pay new insurance premiums

Earlier in the month, the city council voted to give all city workers, save the police force, a cost of living increase of 3 percent. At the same time, employees will now be required to pay a weekly fee of $10 for health insurance coverage.

The council was split on whether to implement the health insurance fees. Sensing a possible snag, city manager Tom Fox negotiated a lower insurance premium that would allow employees' coverage at the cost of $40 per month.

Council members went back and forth during the meeting, finally agreeing to the fees. To offset the costs, Councilman Mike Harper asked the council to approve the cost of living increase.

"I wasn't excited about charging these employees, especially the ones lower on the salary structure," Chapman said. "In today's economy, it's tough for everyone and that amount of money, while it may seem small to some, could be too much for some."

In the end, the council agreed to the insurance fees as well as the cost of living increase.

"It works out as a wash basically," Chapman said. "I'm glad it will work out where it won't really affect the employees and they'll get good insurance benefits."