Columbus City Council tabled decisions Tuesday about the use of the James M. Trotter Convention Center and appointing members to the Municipal Election Commission.
Columbus-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce Director Wilson Beck and 205 Youth Outreach Program Executive Director Lanise Frison requested use of the convention center free of charge for events.
The chamber requested to use Trotter Center’s Regal Hall for a pilot partner program between the chamber and Columbus Air Force Base to welcome new Air Force personnel within their first month after relocating to the Friendly City. The chamber sought use of Regal Hall for Aug. 3 and Aug. 24.
205 Youth Outreach Program requested to use Trotter’s upper level for a program Oct. 3 for a children’s prom.
Rather than approve these requests Tuesday, the council tabled the matter to create a policy regarding the usage of the Trotter Center.
Mayor Keith Gaskin said there is no city policy regarding the use of the facility free of charge.
City Attorney Jeff Turnage confirmed the lack of a formal policy but said in the past if there was a local unit of government or a nonprofit organization the city appropriated money to, then the city has allowed the Trotter to be used free of charge. However, nonprofits that do not receive money from the city have been required to pay for renting space there.
Ward 5 Councilman Stephen Jones moved to table the matter until there is a clear policy on how the city should handle use of the facility.
“I think we should table it until we get a policy together on exactly what we want to do,” he said. “Trotter is there to make money. It’s the taxpayers’, so I don’t think we have the right to give it away unless we are giving it away to everybody.”
In other business, the council tabled plans until its next meeting Aug. 3 to potentially fill five vacancies on the Municipal Election Commission.
Five people serve on the election commission that coordinates and certifies municipal elections. No matter what date commission members were appointed, their terms expire concurrent with the term of council.
Potential appointees have until Aug. 2 deadline to file an application.
“I think that since we have on the agenda that the last appointment would be made Aug. 3, that’s why I said table it and wait because if anyone else applies, we have that date on there so we can give them at least until then that chance to apply if somebody else wanted to apply,” Jones said.
Four-year terms for Penesha McDowell-Harrison, Diane Sloan and Roy Hicks expired on June 30. Two additional election commission slots, for four-year terms held by George Sumrall and Willie Harris terms, expired July 18.
The June 30 expirations could have been appointed Tuesday, but the council has to wait until at least Aug. 3 to appoint the other two. The council move on Tuesday means it will likely appoint all five at the same time.
So far, the seven candidates who have applied for the commission are Japa Castro, Lavonne Harris, Julie Parker and Jermaine Shanklin, along with McDowell-Harrison, Sumrall and Hicks seeking reappointment.
Gaskin will host 10:30 a.m. press conferences on the Wednesdays after council meetings, starting today, in the Jeff Smith Reception Hall located in City Hall. The events are open to the general public.
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