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DDA takes over leasing, management of Rudy’s building

By Sherri Ellington A bid to save Milner money by allowing its Downtown Development Authority to take over operations of the old Rudy’s Restaurant building almost fizzled to nothing, leaving the city to do three separate projects on its own. ’Between their and our money we can do almost everything we need to do,’ said city administrator Harold Wilson. It took a called meeting a week later for councilwoman Betty Wilson to be convinced the only way to repair the city hall and fire station roof, make prelease repairs to the Rudy’s building and pay for a proposed condemnation of a burned out building at 168 Main St. was to let the DDA take over the leasing and management of the restaurant. At the Feb. 21 meeting, she and councilman James Bevil both abstained from the vote, leaving it to pass on a slim majority of George Weldon, Bridget Fouts and a reluctant Fred Stephens. ’I’m still not ready to turn it over to the DDA,’ said Betty Wilson, noting she was not told until the last minute when Milner bought the United Bank property and was still unhappy about that. ‘I want time to think about it.’ She and Bevil also questioned Weldon and Harold Wilson’s membership on the DDA, asking if it was a conflict of interest. Weldon is a member and Harold Wilson serves as a liaison between the two boards. The DDA was set up in 2006 under state guidelines when Milner was expecting plenty of growth from the housing boom. When the boom went bust, it was left with empty subdivisions and not much of a future for plans to revamp downtown. Council also revitalized the DDA Feb. 21. Members do not have to live in Milner, just own a business there. They must be Lamar County residents. Members include Glen Walters, Cheryl Idol, Bill Sawyer, Harold Wilson, Lynn Hardaway, George Weldon and Vickie Smith. At the Feb. 13 city council meeting, Weldon proposed that the Rudy’s property be turned over to the DDA, which would in turn lease it, using the money to set up a revolving fund to help refurbish other parts of downtown after Milner recoups the money it put into the building which formerly housed a restaurant. The line item is already in the city budget and can only be spent by the DDA. The property already has a prospect who would operate an upscale store, an internet sales warehouse and a live auction in the three sections of the building. ’That clears council of going into business for profit,’ said H. Wilson. He noted it would also bring sales taxes into city and county coffers. ’I don’t want to be a landlord,’ said councilwoman Bridget Fouts. It also cleared the way for Milner to focus on Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax projects, re-roofing city hall and the fire station and the creation of the Milner Community Library ‘“ itself under the supervision of a separate board. City attorney Scott Mayfield pointed out Milner can only do one year leases, while the DDA could lease for multiple years. B. Wilson raised several questions, indicating she wanted council itself to do each project individually. The idea to let the DDA have the downtown building died with not a motion in sight Feb. 13. With Betty Wilson opposing, a preliminary lease agreement was approved for the business. If owner Vicky Wilson agrees to it, the company will move to Milner from north Griffin, creating five to seven jobs. Council also: ’¢ Heard the paving company that performed poorly on Main Street has still not made repairs ‘“ nor has it been paid for the work by the Department of Transportation. ’¢ Discussed Georgia Municipal Association and other training. ’¢ Accepted bids from Kellett and Sons Roofing to tear off and reroof city hall and the fire station. Lamar County will contribute to the costs of the fire station work. ’¢ Voted to hire Area Agency on Aging employee Bennie Fambro as of Feb. 22, when his AAA contract runs out.

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