City council to talk ‘Fame,’ use of tear gas and budget at Tuesday meeting

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 14, 2020

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City Council members have a busy meeting ahead of them Tuesday as they anticipate being presented with official plans to relocate the “Fame” Confederate statue as well as potentially approve the 2020-21 proposed budget.

The city council will meet virtually for its regular meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

On the agenda is a discussion regarding the relocation of the “Fame” Confederate statue, which is a years-long debate that has been reignited after community members recently deemed it a public safety issue following an incident where a man fired gunshots into the air on May 31 during a protest to honor George Floyd and other black Americans killed because of racial injustice.

On Friday, the city confirmed that a tentative deal to relocate the statue was in the works between community members and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, but it must be passed by council members after it’s finalized. Mayor Karen Alexander said the deal is a community-led effort and that a community member has been in contact with the UDC. One location being discussed is a cemetery in the 500 block of North Lee Street, which includes tombstones for Confederate soldiers.

Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins will also present to the council two proposals in light of recent protests regarding racial injustice and police brutality. One includes a proposal to consider banning the use of chemical weapons, such as tear gas, by Salisbury Police officers.

Heggins, an Army veteran, said she is proposing the ban of chemical agents like tear gas because they are used for wartime and “we’re not at war with our residents.”

Another proposal Heggins will discuss is the painting of “Black Lives Matter” in downtown Salisbury. This has been done in Washington, D.C. and other major cities. Heggins said it includes a focus on the arts as the idea serves a “very artistic way” to bring together various groups in the community and show unity.

She added that valuing all lives includes valuing black lives as well.

Heggins said both are “good things for us as a council to discuss,” due to what’s currently happening across the nation and the state.

City Council members will also potentially vote on the proposed 2020-21 budget. Members talked at length on June 1 and June 2 about alternative options to continue transit services to Spencer and East Spencer. Particularly, city manager Lane Bailey has instead proposed reducing the existing general fund transfer by using money from the federal CARES Act.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • Consideration to adopt a capital project ordinance amendment in the amount of $26.85 million for the Grant Creek Wastewater Treatment Train improvements. The project was approved during the March 3 City Council meeting.
  • Consideration to adopt a capital project ordinance in the amount of $7.22 million for Water Treatment Plant improvements, which was also approved at the March 3 meeting.
  • Consideration to award a contract to Country Boy Landscaping, Inc., in the amount of $296,886 for the Sunset Drive Central Culvert Replacement Project. The funds for that project were approved in the FY 2019-20 budget.
  •  Consideration to approve the draft 2020-24 consolidated plan and 2020-21 action plan for the use of community development block grant and HOME program funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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