We told you in July about a new sports bar called “ESPM Sports Bar and Café” moving into the same building where the old Wings Cafe once was. This is the restaurant that closed after three people were shot inside.
Now, Bibb commissioners are debating whether or not to give the new restaurant an alcohol license.
In a five to four vote, Bibb Commissioners voted to deny their alcohol license, but the county attorney asked commissioners to table the vote so he could write a memo explaining why they would deny the license.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis spoke up saying he is willing to have some of his officers monitor the restaurant if they approve the license.
“I’ve talked to neighbors out there in that area, and they’re going to keep me up with what’s happening. That way we sort of give it to them on a probation basis to see what happens and revisit in a few months,” says Davis.
Once the attorney drafts the letter, commissioners could have the opportunity to deny the license.
Commissioners also debated whether or not to have county employees contribute more to their health plans. This comes after the county's BB&T consultant, Jimmy Hinson, told commissioners they expect their health care costs to go up almost $4 million this year.
Hinson says right now the county is paying almost 80% of employee’s health care costs, but he says they need to get that number down to 75% to help the budget issues.
Commissioners voted on a resolution to have employees contribute more to their premiums in hopes of getting it to 75%.
Commissioner Elaine Lucas voted against the resolution saying they keep taking away benefits from employees to fix the budget.
“There needs to be a strategy for reducing what's becoming a larger deficit, but we certainty can’t expect our employees to bear the entire load of reduction of somebody’s mistakes,” says Lucas.
Commissioner Joe Allen also voted against it, but the remaining seven commissioners voted in favor of the resolution. One of those is Commissioner Gary Bechtel.
“I don’t like putting additional things on the employees either, but I really don’t like putting additional things on tax payers and that means if we don’t ask for more contribution from employees that's additional money that comes from tax payers,” says Bechtel.
Along with health care costs, the county noticed they made an accounting error that contributed to a projected $4 million deficit in the 2018 budget.
In a unanimous vote, Bibb commissioners approved using SPLOST funds to pay off $2.8 million of the debt.
Mayor Robert Reichert says in the SPLOST there are funds allocated for debt that they will pull from, but he says they could still look at making additional changes to fix the remaining part of the deficit.
One idea he says they could consider is a hiring freeze or county employees contributing to their pension plans.
Bibb commissioners also approved helping the Macon campus of Middle Georgia State University with funding and construction to make pedestrian safety and road improvements.
The school’s Chief of Staff, Albert Abrams, says they are expecting the number of students who live on campus to double in the next few years, but he says right now it is not very safe to walk from the housing to the campus.
Kiandra Thomas lives on campus and says these changes are needed.
“A lot of the problems that we have are with the speeding and we're trying to get across the road to go to class, so it’s very difficult trying to get to class on time when you have to run through traffic to get there,” says Thomas.
Abrams says they want to put in traffic calming devices like speed bumps and add lights to the crosswalk.
Commissioners also approved working with Navicent Health to install a roundabout near the hospital.
The roundabout would go at the five-way intersection of Spring and Pine Street.
Hospital representatives say the roundabout would help get people in and out of the hospital faster.