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City could audit ex-probation company
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Former Municipal Court Judge David Strickland believes the city of Covington should conduct a full forensic audit of former probation company East Georgia Correctional Services because of the company's incomplete record keeping.

On Friday, Strickland dropped off to the city a packet of research, including materials obtained from two state agencies through open records requests, that show apparent discrepancies in how much East Georgia Correctional said it paid to the state and how much it actually paid to the state.

Though the records do not show that East Georgia Correctional broke the law, Strickland said, "At a minimum, I believe that the results of my inquiry should authorize the city to order a full, forensic audit of this entity and these individuals."

City Manager Steve Horton made a brief statement to the council Monday and asked members to decide by the May 7 meeting whether they wanted to pursue an audit.

Noise complaints against car shredder
Several residents from the neighborhood surrounding scrap metal business Oconee Metal Recovery on Washington Street complained to the council about the excessive noise and vibration caused by the large car shredding machine that was installed in 2009.

Eight residents spoke against the machine, which technically does not violate the city's noise ordinance, which requires noises to exceed 75 decibels for at least one sustained minute.

Though a permit for the machine was approved, Planning Director Randy Vinson said he will speak to owner Ed Cloud to try and find a solution.

Residents also complained that vibrations were damaging buildings and that metal shards from the cars being shredded would sometimes fly out of the complex. Replanting trees is one option that could help deaden noise,hough that might be more of a long term benefit.

Council members agreed to take the complaints seriously.

Police department to buy laptops
The council approved the Covington Police Department purchasing 19 laptops to be permanently placed in patrol cars at a cost of $45,895, which would be paid for with forfeited drug monies.

City to outsource afterhours calls
The council also approved contracting with an outside firm, Marietta-based Procore Solutions, to handle all after-hours utility calls, including power outages.

Currently, phone calls are handled by employees at the Covington Police Department who also handle some police calls. Contracting out the phone answering service will cost the city $18,000 extra in expenses, though it is expected to streamline operations at the police department and allow the police department to completely shut down earlier.

The police department would be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.; currently, the office has to stay open to house the after-hours phone operators. Councilman Chris Smith asked if many police departments completely shut down at night, and Chief Stacey Cotton said it was common, mentioning Gainesville and Nocross as example of larger police departments that shut down in the late evening.

The contract calls for Procore to handle up 1,296 calls per month, a much greater amount than the city normally sees, according to data provided by Utility Director Bill Meecham. Procore will have 10 phone operators available at all times and the operators will be specifically trained on Covington's protocols.