News Line for Columbus

Mayor's budget includes parks and rec fee increases
This 2014 budget to reach proposed fiscal 2015 levels, Columbus Parks and Recreation Director James Worsley is proposing a series of fee increases and new fees at recreational venues.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Once again, Council fails to decide RiverWalk restroom issue
After six weeks of discussion, Columbus Council once again failed to approve paying part of the tab for a $244,000 public restroom beneath the Frank Martin Memorial Bridge on the RiverWalk.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Stats: 24 percent crime drop from end of 2013
New data released by Columbus Consolidated Government shows 24 percent fewer crimes were reported in 2014's first quarter when compared to 2013's fourth quarter — a change officials credit to programs reducing burglary, robbery and car thefts.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor Tomlinson, Colin Martin swap barbs in election debate
At the close of an often-spirited mayoral election debate Monday night, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and challenger Colin Martin got more pointed toward each other in closing statements than voters have so far seen.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Residents express desire to save Claflin
The city's plans to turn the old Claflin School building over to the federal government may be postponed if concerned citizens have their way.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

'Resting Garden' grows on site of city's first black cemetery
In the next two months, the city hopes to cut the ribbon on a "Resting Garden" currently under construction on the site of the first cemetery for black people in Columbus, City Manager Isaiah Hugley said.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council facing another health care challenge
Columbus Council Budget Review Chairman Skip Henderson doesn’t want council to make the same mistake it made last year, one that allowed a multi-million dollar health care deficit in fiscal 2014.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council votes to restore two-way traffic on 10th, 12th streets
After an inconclusive 4-3 vote two weeks ago, Columbus Council voted 7-1 today to approve an ordinance restoring two-way traffic to two downtown streets.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City's budget season kicks off with formal presentation of $263M plan
The Columbus Consolidated Government formally presented a proposed $263.1 million budget for fiscal 2015 to Columbus Council today.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Finally, city workers, consultants enter blighted Barngrover property
Just after 8 o'clock this morning, with Superior Court Judge William Rumer presiding from beneath a large umbrella, a group of workers prepared to unlock and enter the long-blighted property at 3301 Cathryn Drive amid a soaking rain.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Judge orders work to start on dilapidated Barngrover house
The 23-year saga of the house at 3001 Cathryn Drive took a step toward resolution today in Superior Court Judge Bill Rumer’s courtroom.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council fails to approve $244,000 RiverWalk restroom
Columbus Council failed to approve entering into agreement with the Georgia Department of Transportation to build public restrooms beneath the east end of the Frank Martin Memorial Bridge.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council fails to approve restoring two-way traffic to 10th, 12th Streets
Columbus Council failed to approve an ordinance today that would have restored two-way traffic to 10th Street from Sixth Avenue to Bay Avenue and on 12th Street from Sixth Avenue to Veterans Parkway. Twelfth Street would have remained one-way to the west from Veterans to Front Avenue, as it is now.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City will bring $244K restroom back before Council Tuesday
The city Planning Department will bring a proposal to build a public restroom beneath the Frank Martin Memorial Bridge back before Columbus Council Tuesday night, according to council’s agenda.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Martin: Mayor to blame for police shortage; Tomlinson: He’s ‘ill-informed’
Columbus mayoral candidate Colin Martin today blamed Mayor Teresa Tomlinson for the city’s shortage of police officers, the ensuing stress on officers and for doing nothing to retain officers who leave the force, in a press release issued this afternoon by email. Tomlinson responded that Martin is “ill-informed.”
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor's forum draws a variety of questions
A crowd of about 80 gathered Thursday night at Gethsemane Baptist Church in south Columbus for Mayor Teresa Tomlinson's first quarterly public forum of 2014.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City facing growing deficits in health care spending
The Columbus Consolidated Government is running a health care deficit in the current fiscal year that is at about $3.1 million, and counting and will face a projected $4.6 million deficit in the next fiscal year if nothing is done, city administrators told Columbus Council Tuesday.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Key local bills appear dead for this legislative session
With only two days left in the current Georgia General Assembly session, two key pieces of legislation that the Consolidated Government included on its legislative agenda appear dead in the water, delegation members say.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council delays decision on $244,000 restroom
After some consideration, Columbus Council delayed pulling the handle on a $244,000 public restroom under the Frank Martin Memorial Bridge at its Tuesday meeting.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City salaries: Augusta similar to Columbus but has fewer workers
The Columbus Consolidated Government employs about 2,980 people, full and part time, with a total city payroll of about $106.2 million, according to records obtained from the city's human resources department.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson holding campaign kickoff Saturday
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will hold a campaign kickoff Saturday at noon at her campaign headquarters on Macon Road across from Cross Country Plaza, Tomlinson announced today.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor Tomlinson to speak at national conference
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has been invited to speak at the annual Public-Private Partnership Conference next week in Dallas, Texas, her office announced today.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council passes tweaked version of long-debated health insurance plan
After five months of deliberations and public hearings on proposed changes to city employee health insurance plans, Columbus Council voted against the administration’s proposal, then immediately passed an almost identical alternative plan.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council meeting: City employees like health center
The Consolidated Government's new Health and Wellness Center is being well received by city employees who have opted to use it for their primary health care, city Internal Auditor John Redmond told Columbus Council Tuesday night.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor Tomlinson: 'This city has never been more alive'
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson outlined four major “opportunities” that lay ahead for Columbus in her 2014 State of the City address Tuesday:
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City employees concerned about out-of-pocket costs, deductibles
Five city employees came before Columbus Council during a public hearing on health care cost increases with similar opinions Tuesday evening at the City Services Center.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson to give State of the City address Tuesday
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will present her third annual State of the City address Tuesday at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Columbus Convention and Trade Center.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson sets dates, sites for 2013 'Let's Talk' forums
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will continue her quarterly public forums in 2013 with meetings at two local churches, a private school and the Springer Opera House.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City government again hopes to sell Civic Center naming rights
The Consolidated Government is looking for a corporate partner to purchase naming rights to the Columbus Civic Center, Ice Rink and Civic Center box office, according to City Manager Isaiah Hugley.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Elected officials attend Colin Martin's campaign kickoff
Former Columbus Chamber of Commerce vice president Colin Martin officially launched his candidacy for mayor to the theme of, “Hold on. Help is on the way” with seven elected city officials attending.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City warns Mario's could lose license pending more violations
The Columbus Consolidated Government has sent a warning to Mario's Restaurant — any more violations and the Broadway business could lose its license.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Columbus council employees speak out against absorbing health care increases
Columbus Councilors heard several city employees speak out against absorbing a 25 percent share of increased health care costs during a public hearing Tuesday evening at the City Service Center.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City councilors revisit health insurance cost overruns today
Columbus Council will meet this afternoon in a special called meeting to discuss Consolidated Government health insurance cost overruns.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Tax credits clear way for start of BTW housing redevelopment
The first phase of the redevelopment of the Booker T. Washington public housing project will begin in late 2014 or early 2015, the Housing Authority of Columbus announced this week.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City hires company to rid areas of wild hogs
Faced with growing reports of wild hogs encroaching on residential areas, the city of Columbus has contracted with a local company to capture and dispose of the destructive and potentially dangerous animals, according to city officials.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Chamber VP Colin Martin will try to oust Tomlinson from mayor's office
Colin Martin, vice president for governmental affairs for the Chamber of Commerce, confirmed Tuesday that he will seek to oust Mayor Teresa Tomlinson in next year’s mayoral election.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

"Let's talk... With the mayor": Final forum focuses on $6.5 million deficit
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson's final quarterly public forum of the year drew more than 100 people to Solid Rock Assembly of God Church in Midland, and the city's budget was the most popular topic of discussion.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City's new Sustainability Center officially opens for business
On a wall just inside the entrance to the city’s new Sustainability Center recycling facility, a Native American proverb reads: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson to hold final public forum of 2013 Thursday
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson will hold the final of her four 2013 quarterly public forums Thursday. The forums, dubbed “Let’s Talk … with the Mayor,” are intended to provide citizens with access to city leaders and to foment discussion on issues facing the city.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council approves Uptown land deals for zip line, road reopening
Columbus Council approved two land deals Tuesday morning that could make way for a 1,200-foot zip line across the Chattahoochee and the eventual reopening of Front Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor: Deficit spending could mean drastic cuts to services, jobs
The city will end the current fiscal year with a $6.5 million deficit, unless drastic measures are taken, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told Columbus Council this morning. That could mean considerable cuts in city services and the loss of anywhere from 50 to 120 jobs, Tomlinson said.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Land swap would lead to reopening of Front Avenue
The city is planning to swap two small parcels of riverfront property to the W.C. Bradley Co. for a corridor of right of way that would eventually allow the reopening of Front Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets, according to city records.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council delays action on city's rising health care costs
For the second time in as many months, Columbus Council on Tuesday night postponed making a decision on how the Consolidated Government and its employees will share the burden of rising health insurance costs.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Crime prevention grants go back before Columbus Council Tuesday
A week after Columbus Council balked at approving 10 crime prevention grants worth a total of almost $700,000, Crime Prevention Director Seth Brown will be back in front of Council Tuesday to try again.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Council votes to delay approving funds for crime prevention programs
Columbus Council postponed voting Tuesday on almost $700,000 in funding for social service crime prevention programs offered by 10 local organizations.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City, consultants unveil far-reaching transportation plan
The city unveiled a consultant’s far-reaching, long-range plan for potential alternative transportation projects Tuesday at the City Services Center.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City parks and rec department named top agency in state
Columbus’ Parks and Recreation Department has been named “Agency of the Year” by the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association at the organization’s annual meeting earlier this month at the Trade Center.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City moving forward with River Road, Bradley Park Drive roundabout
Columbus Council voted Tuesday to authorize the city to go forward with a plan to build a large roundabout at the intersection of River Road, Bradley Park Drive, Green Island Drive and Cascade Road.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Councilors to vote on sampling brews
You may soon be able to sample the beer before you have your growler filled, if Columbus Council OKs it.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City needs volunteers for feral cat control program
The city of Columbus is looking for cat people. More specifically, it is looking for volunteers to help out in its Trap, Neuter and Release program aimed at controlling the city’s free roaming or feral cat population.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City gears up for opening of recycling, sustainability center
The city’s new Recycling and Sustainability Center is all but completed with workers putting final touches on the 54,000 square foot facility near the city’s Pine Grove Landfill.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

City employees protest higher insurance costs
City employees gave Columbus Councilors an earful on the subject of sharing the impact of rising health insurance costs during a sometimes raucous work session Tuesday morning and afternoon.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

WIGGED OUT: Last downtown wig shop closes
Wig shops once dotted the downtown Columbus landscape -- about a half dozen of them sprinkled between loan stores and a few bars.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Mayor: City layoffs likely if cuts not approved
If the Columbus Consolidated Government does not implement significant administrative changes, it will be forced to make spending cuts that would require layoffs or dipping deeply into its reserves, imperiling its bond rating and likely costing taxpayers more to finance future bond issues, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told Columbus Councilors in a memo last week.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Dangerous Bradley Park/J.R. Allen cloverleaf to close Friday
The cloverleaf entrance from Bradley Park Drive onto west-bound J.R. Allen Parkway will be closed permanently on Friday, city officials have announced.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer