The bright, yellow hang tags that tell of the impending cut off of electricity and other utilities will soon be a thing of the past in Covington.
The Covington City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to do away with the hang tags and instead notify residents of past due payments through their regularly scheduled utility bill.
The change will eliminate the $15 tag fee, which serves as a double penalty for residents who don't pay their bill on time. Personnel Director Ronnie Cowan said eliminating hang tags would allow a worker to devote himself to other tasks for those hours. The $30 fee to reconnect utilities would still be in place.
Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams agreed with the ordinance change, noting that the tags can embarrass people who happen to be struggling financially.
Councilmen Keith Dalton and Chris Smith opposed the change. Smith expressed concern that the resident of the property might not be the one who picks up the mail and might not get a notice. As a landlord, he said the tags also notify him of a potential problem with a tenant.
The ordinance passed 4-2.
Golf carts ordinance revised
The council also approved the first reading of an ordinance change which simplifies where golf carts can be driven in the city limits.
Golf carts will now be allowed to drive on any street in the city where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.
This allows golf carts to be driven on portions of Ga. Highway 36 and 81, where the speed permits.
Golf carts will also be allowed to cross U.S. Highway 278 on Pace Street into the Newton Plaza, as well as on Mill Street.
The final readings of both the hang tag and golf cart ordinances are scheduled for the council's Tuesday, Sept. 6 meeting at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. The council will meet on Tuesday because of the Labor Day holiday.
No traffic light needed at Ingles
The Georgia Department of Transportation studied traffic at the Ingles in the Martins Crossing Shopping Center on U.S. 278 and determined that a traffic light was not needed at the intersection.
When the shopping center contained Walmart and Ingles a light may have been needed, but traffic has declined since Walmart left.
Industry to get a break on sewer costs
Local industry Contract Packaging, which produces Seven Dust insecticide products, was granted its request for a lower sewer bill because not all of the water it uses is returned to the city's system.
A portion of the water that goes into the plant is further purified and then included in the company's line of Seven products. Sewer is not metered separately in Covington, but is assumed to be the same as water usage because generally the vast majority of water is returned to the system.
However, industries like Contract Packaging and General Mills both use significant amounts of water to make their products. Contract Packaging meters its purified water separately, so it will be billed for the difference between its regular water meter and purified water meter. The company's sewer bill is generally around $1,000, said Public Works Director Billy Bouchillon.
Irrigation lines commonly ask for these sewer cost reductions.