Seven Copperas Cove employees were honored for their years of service during the City Council’s workshop Tuesday night. Six of those honored have worked for the city since 2008.

Robert Butler Jr. is a solid waste driver, David Boone is a sewer operator. Danny Belk is a police sergeant and Tasha Gerken is a police corporal.

April Lingo is a communications operator for police department, and George Romfh is a firefighter.

With five years of service, Tamara Hall is an animal control officer.

Interim city manager Ryan Haverlah praised all seven employees, citing their willingness to go above and beyond in their work for the residents of Cove.

The council reconvened after the workshop for the regular meeting. Much of that session involved a discussion of fees to rent the Civic Center.

“In 2014, the cost of renting the Civic Center was $500 per day,” said Councilman Jay Manning, who had requested the item be placed on the agenda.

Since that time, the fee had increased to its present rate of $800 for a full day.

Manning supplied addition data that showed the number of revenue from Civic Center rentals had decreased considerably since the fee was increased.

“Building revenue was $32,000 in 2013,” Manning said. By 2016, that revenue had dropped 26 percent. In 2017, the total revenue from Civic Center rentals was $19,000, reflecting an additional 23 percent decrease. For the first few months of 2018, Civic Center rentals are down a further 19 percent.

Manning requested the council consider returning the Civic Center rental fee to $500 per day.

Councilman Charlie Youngs agreed. Referring to Robert O’Dell of the Cove Military Affairs Committee, who spoke during the citizens forum portion of the council meeting about the cost of using the Civic Center forcing that organization to find another venue for its dinners, Youngs said, “We raised their fees and cut them off at the knees.”

Both Haverlah and Parks and Recreation director Joe Brown presented the council with figures reflecting the expenses incurred by the Civic Center, compared to the income. Haverlah cited “market conditions” as one reason for setting the Civic Center fee at its present level of $800 per day.

Councilman Marc Payne requested the city officials provide more complete data, so the council would have a better means to compare the year-to-year decline in rentals.

Councilman Dan Yancey said the Civic Center should be available to everyone in the community. “We need to lower the fees so they are more palatable, so citizens can utilize a nice facility at an affordable price.”

At the conclusion of the exchange, it was determined the matter would be placed on a future workshop agenda for additional discussion.

In other business:

The council voted to amend the budget of the Economic Development Corporation, adding $90,000 to cover the cost of two new employees and a change of position for another employee.

As the meeting came to a close, Youngs asked that an item be placed on the March 20 meeting agenda allowing the council to discuss and take action on returning the EDC to the status of an independent organization.

Since the city took over control of the EDC in 2016, “Our EDC is pretty much ineffective,” Youngs said, having lost directors and lacking a recruiting plan.

Haverlah promised to have city staff compile the necessary information to facilitate that discussion.

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