PORTERDALE, Ga. — Porterdale City Council soon will be forced to fill its third vacancy in a year after longtime Councilman Mike Harper announced his resignation recently.
Harper, who was first elected in 2009, was in the middle of his third term representing Post 4 on the city council.
He tendered his resignation Friday, July 30, said City Manager Frank Etheridge. The city charter requires the remaining council members to appoint a successor for the remainder of the term.
Councilmembers indicated during a meeting Monday night that Harper cited health problems for his decision to resign five months before his term ends Dec. 31.
Harper had repeatedly been absent in recent months and been forced at times in the past year to attend council meetings remotely — at least once due to being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Councilman Lowell Chambers said Harper had served the city well during his time in office.
"He's put in many good years to the city," Chambers said.
Harper would have been up for re-election in the Nov. 2 city election and the council will have to decide if it wants to appoint a placeholder or someone interested in seeking a full term.
Porterdale council members earlier this year appointed Mike Patterson to fill the Post 3 seat left vacant by the resignation of Tim Savage, while Councilwoman Kay Piper won a special election for the Post 1 seat after Niki Westcott moved outside the city.
The Nov. 2 election will feature the elections of Posts 3, 4 and 5 council members.
Chambers, who represents Post 5, announced he planned to qualify for re-election to a fourth term. Patterson has not stated his intentions publicly.
Qualifying is scheduled for Aug. 16 through 20 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day at Porterdale City Hall.
Early voting in the election will begin Oct. 12.
The city's charter states a candidate must be at least 18 years old and a city resident for one year to qualify for the election.
Councilwoman Kay Piper said she wanted the council to consider changing the charter to require council members to own property in Porterdale to qualify for election. She said someone who rents is "always a potential 60 days away from losing their home."
In action Monday night, the council approved an intergovernmental agreement with Newton County Tax Commissioner Marcus Jordan to collect property taxes for the city for 10 years.
Chambers said he had been a "strong advocate" for the action because of the tax commissioner's high rate of collections compared to the city's rate.
Jordan will charge the city $3.50 per account or about $3,500, Etheridge said.
The council voted for the agreement at a rate not to exceed $3.50 per account.
Porterdale council also voted to participate with five other cities in Newton County in hiring a consultant to help the cities earn the largest possible share of revenue from the 1% Local Option Sales Tax.
The sales tax revenue is designed to offset funds local governments otherwise would need to collect from property taxes for pay for general services.
The council voted to spend about $2,870 for its share of the $33,000 cost of hiring SDS Consultants for the job of finding information on how to best negotiate for the cities' shares of LOST revenue.
Cities receive a share of total LOST revenue based on such factors as population and growth rate.