The Cecil City Council will have the daunting task of clearing its town from a debt amounting to more than $40,000. Until now, the Council has been unable to take action due to the lack of a legal quorum. But with four new members recently elected to the Council, officials have agreed to make Cecil's finances a priority.
"I asked for the motion that no Council member nor the mayor receive any pay until the city is back up and running, and they carried it 100 percent," said Mayor James Spencer. "We're looking for ways and means that we can help the city. They have a good attitude so far, and I'm pretty sure it's going to get stronger."
The new Council includes four new officials with Spencer serving as mayor following a special election held March 15. The new members include Irene Parks, John Orr, Everett "Bud" Paulk and Kim Cersey. Ben Pickett was the only Council member who remained following the resignations. A special election was required due to the resignation of four Council members that followed the resignation of Mayor Michael Yates.
In October, Council members requested Yates' resignation after they learned he withdrew two loans amounting to more than $40,000 in the city's name for personal use.
In January, Councilmen Linda Hancock, Judy Armstrong, O.B. Wynne and Spencer, who was then mayor pro tem, resigned.
Spencer submitted his resignation in order to qualify for the mayoral race, while the remaining Councilmen cited stress and business-related issues as reasons for their resignations.
During the new Council's first meeting on Thursday, Spencer said he and the Council discussed how to tend to Cecil's financial issues.
"Right now we're going to concentrate on all outstanding debt," Spencer said. "We still have money trickling down from CTC (Financial Inc.) that will replace some of the money that was used."
Cecil borrowed about $250,000 from CTC Financial Inc. to repay the city's debt.
With that much money at stake in Cecil, Councilman Everett "Bud" Paulk said the Council and mayor couldn't see receiving money for their positions.
"It's just something we needed to do to let the money in there go toward the debt," Paulk said. "The first thing we're going to do is get out of debt and then we'll worry about the future. And we're going to get out of debt, it's just a matter of time."
Spencer said some future projects for Cecil include water and sewer infrastructure that will run to Interstate 75 at Exit 32. About $479,000 from a Community Development Block Grant is expected to fund the project.
"Cecil's not going to grow until we get that water and sewer in," Spencer said.
Paulk, too, agreed that Cecil needs water and sewer infrastructure, but added that some residents don't want to see to much growth in the city with a population of about 300.
"We hope to put sewer in and make the streets better," Paulk said. "The town's going to grow a little bit as population grows. It's just a little country town. Personally I like it the way it is. There's a lot of retired people, and a lot of them don't want to see things go up and taxes more than they have."
React to this story:
- Lowndes sheriff: Four teens charged with murder
- GBI: Man faces murder charges for Remerton killings
- Berrien man pleads guilty in multimillion-dollar fraud scheme
- Appeals court deals blow to Rodemaker lawsuit
- Changing Forrest: Street name petition has enough signatures to take to City Council
- UPDATE: Mel Gibson shooting film in Downtown Valdosta; extras needed
- Police: Teen dies in Valdosta wreck
- City approves settlement offer in VPD excessive force suit
- Settlement accepted in VPD excessive force case
- Valdosta man indicted in vehicular homicide