By Alton Mitchell
Monday night’s meeting of the LaFayette City Council was one in which much was accomplished. The events included a new proclamation the city announced as well as major changes that may be coming for the LaFayette Fire Department. In addition the little things that the community of LaFayette does as a whole was addressed and commended by the Mayor and the members of Council.
As always the council meeting was called to order by the call to order and the invocation. Shortly thereafter the roll call was held and all members of the council announced that they were present and accounted for. The perfect attendance would allow the members of council to vote on a proposed proclamation before them as the first matter of business at the meeting.
Ms. Adrian Holloway of Chattahoochee Hospice in Valley was on hand to accept the proclamation that council approved with a unanimous approval decision. That proclamation stated that November would be recognized in the city of LaFayette as National Hospice Month. Under this new proclamation the city will be used as a beacon to raise awareness about hospice care in the local area. “We are thankful for all the city of LaFayette does to raise awareness about our services and activities,” Ms. Holloway stated to the council while accepting the proclamation on behalf of Chattahoochee Hospice Care.
With hospice care taking the forefront in the meeting it only seemed appropriate for those who assist in the saving of local lives to address the council immediately after the proclamation was delivered. This was done by LaFayette Fire Chief Robert H. Cotney. Chief Cotney came before council with a proposal to improve the ranks of the local Fire Department and offer compensation to those who work hard to keep LaFayette and its neighboring communities safe and sound.
Chief Cotney offered the council an administrative proposal with the goal of improving the ranks of the fire department and still falling within the guidelines of the local budget. The proposal that was presented before the council would allow for the promotion of existing members of the fire department to permanent supervisory roles in the department. The ultimate goal is to create a new pay grade over time that would offer moderate raises to existing members of the fire department whom are awarded these promotions. Chief Cotney broke the numbers down and before council and offered input on how his proposal could ultimately save the city money overall.
Councilman David Ennis was curious to find out how the supervisory roles within the ranks of the department were presently handled. The chief explained that they are done through temporary positions that are swapped in and out by members of the department. He explained that this process has been working, but does create a cache 22 of sorts as during this period one member may be the supervisor and next week they may be the supervised, that has a ripple effect of not wanting to push the envelope to far in the way of correction and critiquing of other members of the department. Chief Cotney explained that giving the pay increase can create a level of accountability within the department.
Other questions would come before the Fire Department in which the power of the department and its responsibility was exposed. Despite LaFayette’s one station house located below the water tower in downtown the reach of the facility is enormous covering an area that extends as far as some stretches of U.S. Highway 280 and Waverly to encompass an area of nearly 400 square miles that rely on LaFayette’s Fire services for protection from one of nature’s most dangerous elements and humanities consistent ailments.
Members of council decided to table the discussion on the Chiefs proposal until a later meeting, but did seem very interested in the ideas that Chief Cotney offered. Council members expressed an interest in speaking on a one on one basis with the Chief to get further details before making a concrete decision.
Prior to the adjourning of the meeting Mayor Moody expressed the level of pride that he felt after witnessing firsthand the outpouring of support and hard work that was demonstrated by staff at LaFayette High School, and the community in the cleaning effort that took place there on October 28th during the USA Today Make a Difference Day 2015. Other members of council joined in the expression of gratitude to the students who put forth the effort to take pride in their school and the community and community leaders who also assisted. Special mention was given to the LaFayette Fire Department who made a surprise stop at LaFayette High School to offer a different kind of service to the community and help the youth.
As the meeting got set to close the council voted to satisfy their financial responsibility and pay the city’s owed bills. A quick mention was also made for the upcoming Christmas on the square event that is in the works and gaining a lot of momentum and promises to have big surprises in store this year. The meeting was adjourned and as those in attendance exited City Hall despite the earlier sunset associated with daylight savings time, the darkness over the downtown buildings seemed to shine just a bit brighter as decisions were made in the short period of time that would brighten the future of LaFayette for the long run.