Dalton City Council approves contract for free meals

·3 min read

Jun. 8—The Dalton City Council voted 3-0 Monday to award a $45,750 contract to Brotown, which operates Dalton's Dos Bros restaurant, to provide 4,500 meals at the John Davis Recreation Center and the Dalton Housing Authority from June 13 to July 1.

Mayor David Pennington typically votes only if there is a tie, and council member Tyree Goodlett was absent.

The meals will be free to residents of census tract 4, which is the area around the rec center and the housing authority. The meals will be provided starting at 4:30 p.m. at the housing authority and at 6 p.m. at the rec center. The contract is funded by the city's share of federal COVID-19 relief funds, which allow for free meals for people who may be having financial difficulties because of COVID-19.

The council members also voted 3-0 to approve a measure that will allow some retirees on the city pension plan to come back to work part time without losing their pension benefits.

Under the city's previous pension plan rules, if retirees came back to work for the city their pension benefits had to be suspended until they left city employ again.

During the council's May 2 meeting, City Administrator Andrew Parker said finding and keeping employees with a commercial driver's license (CDL) has been a particular problem and it will only get worse with new, more extensive training requirements to obtain a CDL.

Those who already have a CDL have been exempted from the new requirements. Parker said that means retirees who have a CDL can step into roles without those requirements.

Retirees will be limited to 16 hours each week. If they go above that, their pension would be frozen.

Pennington noted the city administrator would have to approve each request to bring a retiree back.

Council member Steve Farrow said he was voting for the measure because he has trust in Parker. But he said he has seen efforts to bring retirees back abused in other places, and if he sees the system being abused in Dalton he will request it be abolished.

The council members also held the first reading of a law designed to simplify the obtaining of an alcoholic beverage license by removing the Public Safety Commission from the process.

City Attorney Terry Miller said historically under the city charter license applications have first come before the Public Safety Commission, which oversees the fire and police departments, for a recommendation. He said some applicants have complained about the "inordinate delay" that creates.

Parker said the process can take up to two months since the Public Safety Commission meets only once a month.

"The review and vetting take place primarily in the city clerk's office and the city attorney's office, and they provide a recommendation to the Public Safety Commission," Parker said.

Parker said the Public Safety Commission would continue to have a role in regulating license holders. It would hold hearings to determine if violations have happened and how license holders will be punished if they violate license requirements.

"We just want to streamline the process to obtain a license," he said. "The City Council already has to approve those applications."