Portland’s City Council formally banned the practice of hunting, trapping or using firearms on city-owned property during its Dec. 6 meeting.

“You’d be amazed how many calls we get about people wanting to hunt on city land,” Mayor Mike Callis said. “We thought we already had this in code and couldn’t find it.

“We’re not monitoring the property, but we’re going to be posting some signs… Deer always know where to be where there’s no hunting.”

The city checked with its insurance carrier, which Callis said strongly advised not allowing such practices on city property.

In response to a question from Jody McDowell, Callis said the resolution exempted law enforcement or other “qualified city personnel” based on need.

The council also approved a contract for the development of a Park Master Plan, which Callis said would make it possible to receive grant for park improvements.

The city will contract with OHM Advisors to develop a plan and pay $58,000 under the agreement.

“The master plan is one thing we do not have on the books to be eligible for the round of grant that is going to be coming,” Callis told the board.

The board also approved allowing Portland to assume monthly billing services for Mitchellville’s sewer customers. Under the agreement, Portland will bill at Mitchellville’s rate with Mitchellville paying $1 per customer billed per month beginning in January 2022.

“This will allow us to better see what’s going on there, that usage,” Callis said. “They have 75, 76 homes that we take their sewer.”

Aldermen also approved a one-time increase in Christmas bonuses for city employees of $250 for full-time employees and $100 for part-time employees, which Callis said the city also did in 2020. Christmas bonuses are set based on length of service.

Also approved on second reading was a resolution increasing the mayor’s annual salary to be 110% of the average combined salaries of all city department heads. The increase will not take effect until after the next election.

“Our charter designates you don’t raise or lower an official’s pay during their term,” Callis said.

Other items approved were an extension of the city’s realtor agreement with Exit Garden Gate Realty, the reappointment of Curtis Grove to the Planning Commission, taking steps to sell tracts on Sharon Street and College Street as surplus property and the re-zoning of property on North Broadway and Magnolia Springs Road to General Commercial Services.

Proceeds from the surplus property sale would be designated for tearing down the old Dan Jenkins furniture building. That amendment came from Brian Woodall and was unanimously approved.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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