Thomasville Times Enterprise

April 15, 2014

City denies Zebulon contribution

Susanne Reynolds

CAIRO — The mayor and Cairo City Council decided not to follow Grady County commissioners’ lead in contributing $4,000 to the Zebulon Theater’s digital conversion fund.

Discussion to contribute $4,000 to the historic Zebulon Theater was opened by the Mayor Bobby Burns at Monday’s council meeting.

Councilmember Jimmy Douglas began the discussion and was against the city spending taxpayers’ dollars on an organization.

He said, “It is not in the best interest of the city.”

Douglas made the motion to deny the contribution to the Zebulon. Councilmember Ernest W. Cloud seconded the motion.

More discussion took place before the issue was voted on by the council.

Councilmember Kermit Gilliard Jr. said, “We can do something.”

City Attorney Thomas L. Lehman said there could be a way to contribute money to the theater, but it would need to be through a contract.

“We could find a way. It’s not proper to do it through direct contributions,” he said.

The issue of giving taxpayers’ dollars plagued the council.

Lehman also said, “You can instruct what the organization does with the money through a contract to ensure taxpayers it is in the best interest of the city.”

Gilliard explained to the council that they help the Boys and Girls Club, which is very similar to their current situation. The city allows the Boys and Girls Club to use a building they own, but as Lehman pointed out, it is done through a contract.

The mayor was not in favor of approving the contribution.

He said, “The fund should be donated by personal donors, not taxpayers. I think the voters need my opinion since they voted me into this position.”

Councilmember Bobby Gwaltney agreed with Burns.

The city voted unanimously to deny the contribution of $4,000 to the Zebulon Theater.

After the vote, Burns promised to personally donate 10 percent of the requested amount to the Zebulon Theater. Douglas also promised to donate to the fund.

Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.