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Madison Mayor Paul Finley and Council President Steve Smith honored each member of Girl Scout Troop 10341 with a certificate for building and installing their "Little Libraries." (Record Photo/Kendyl Hollingsworth)

Madison City Council honors Girl Scouts, offers condolences for loss of Capt. Kamus

MADISON — Girl Scouts, property taxes and the late Capt. Wayne Kamus took center stage as the evening’s biggest topics in an otherwise short agenda at Madison City Council’s Nov. 26 meeting.

District 3 Councilman Teddy Powell was absent from the meeting.

The evening began with an invocation from Dr. Tommy Gray of Asbury United Methodist Church in which he prayed for those affected by the loss of Kamus. Following his prayer, Madison’s Girl Scout Troop 10341 led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley and Council President Steve Smith then presented a certificate to each member of Troop 10341 for building and installing one of their “Little Libraries” in the downtown area.

One leader said the Girl Scouts learned a wide variety of skills related to their project, including math, painting, sanding and using power tools. She also thanked some of the Girl Scouts’ dads for their help.

“I think the neatest thing for [the Girl Scouts] is when they go by Asbury Church or when they go down by Main Street, they look and go, ‘We did that,’” the leader said. “… I think these girls did awesome.”

The troop will be maintaining the Little Libraries every two weeks for three years before turning it over to the next troop.

During the presentation of reports, council members expressed their sadness over the recent, unexpected loss of Kamus and offered their condolences to his family, friends and coworkers.

Kamus, who served in the Madison Police Department for nearly 18 years, passed away at his home Nov. 19. The Huntsville Police Department answered calls and patrolled the streets in Madison Nov. 26 so that MPD could attend Kamus’ visitation and funeral.

“He meant a lot to our city and to our department, to a lot of family and friends,” Smith said. “I went to the visitation today, and what struck me was there was Madison police, Huntsville police, the county sheriff’s department, all the local municipalities … Huntsville reached out to us and sent their officers over here to patrol our streets so our officers could get off the streets and go to the service. That was just very touching for me to realize that they reached out in that manner.”

District 7 Councilman John Seifert, who also attended the funeral, described the event as “very sombering,” but also “a good celebration of a good man’s life.”

Though District 6 Councilman Gerald Clark was unable to attend, he echoed Seifert’s sentiments. Both District 4 Councilman Greg Shaw and Clark said their “heartfelt” thoughts and prayers go out to Kamus’ family.

“It’s tough when you lose somebody in the line of duty,” Clark said.

“He’s been on my heart as well, and I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to (Kamus’ wife) Lori,” said District 1 Councilwoman Maura Wroblewski. “He was the heartbeat, I believe, of our department and our city, and he will be missed.”

Earlier in the meeting, Tom Scovill addressed the council regarding the property tax increase benefiting Madison City Schools, which the council approved following a public hearing at the Nov. 13 meeting. Scovill expressed his concerns in respect to the increase while also suggesting the council consider a few other items, including establishing a “Madison Taxpayer Appreciation Day” and providing a City of Madison renter’s property tax rebate program.

“Alabama and Madison are going crazy on taxes,” Scovill said. “This is crazy because the tax code and budgeting process are archaic and fraught with croneyism. Tax increases will delay reform and make the changes we desperately need more difficult.”

Scovill also expressed his desire to see Triana pay two mils more to make up for the current difference brought about from the previous large tax increase since its students also attend Madison City Schools. Following his remarks, Madison City Schools Board of Education member Connie Spears addressed a couple points Scovill brought up.

“As far as Triana is concerned, the separation agreement from the county school system [notes that] Triana’s required to match each increase,” Spears explained. “Since Triana passed their tax before Madison passed their tax, they asked for 9 mils instead of 11 (Madison’s previous increase). That’s where the difference comes from.”

Spears also clarified that the 110-percent increase in this year’s proposed property tax increase, which Scovill brought up, is only reflected in the education portion of the tax.

The council made one appointment at the Nov. 26 meeting. Dawson Brown, nominated by Wroblewski, will fill place 7 of the Madison City Disability Advocacy Board.

The council also approved all items on the consent agenda and finance committee report. In addition to regular and periodic bills, items included $300 to Geo Solutions for NPDES monitoring during the October services phase of the multi-use venue project, a travel advance of $214.50 for Teresa Taylor-Duncan to attend a RAD instructor certification training, and a payment to Alabama Fence & Play for installing a tall fence with a custom gate around the library Children’s Garden.

Another item will authorize the council to contribute up to $500 to Hunter Goffinett’s Eagle Scout project. Goffinett built a fire pit for flag retirement, the design of which includes a lockable top to address safety concerns, for American Legion Post 229. The fire pit is located at Madison Veterans Memorial Park.

At the Nov. 13 city council meeting, Goffinett said more than 100 man hours went into establishing the new fire pit, and though he went over his original budget, the council still agreed to help the project with $500 if Goffinett can match that with his own fundraising efforts.

The most costly item on the agenda was a payment of just over $1 million to the City of Huntsville for Madison’s 5 percent portion of PE paid to date for the widening of Zierdt Road from Madison Boulevard to Martin Road. Other related payments on the agenda totaled nearly $65,000.

Two payments to Croy Engineering were approved for the widening of Hughes Road ($57,655) and modifications to the Sullivan Street/Browns Ferry Road traffic signal ($10,375).

In appropriations and donations, the council accepted a $30 donation from Sandra Whitworth to be deposited in the Fire Department account, as well as a $50 donation from Chong Shepard for the Public Works Department.

Only the planning and revenue departments had resolutions up for approval under department reports. Planning Director Mary Beth Broeren presented three items on behalf of her department: a proposed ordinance that would vacate a portion of a utility and drainage easement on a Plaza Boulevard property; a resolution to set a public hearing on another proposed ordinance that would rezone certain property owned by Tony Sexton and Sherry Sexton Pruett on the south side of Powell Road, east of Segers Road, from agriculture to RC-2; and a similar resolution to set a public hearing for the rezoning of property owned by John Paul Atkinson, also from agriculture to RC-2, on the south side of Hardiman Road and east of Segers Road. The council approved all items, and the public hearings are scheduled for Jan. 14, 2019.

The Revenue Department’s proposed ordinance to exempt certain “covered items” from the municipal sales and use tax during the severe weather preparedness tax holiday (Feb. 22-24, 2019) was also approved by the council.

Madison City Council typically meets on the second and fourth Mondays of every month in the council chambers on the main level of Madison Municipal Complex, located at 100 Hughes Road. Stay up to date on city and council matters at www.madisonal.gov.

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