Monticello City Council reviewed another budget proposal for the 
current fiscal year, presented by Mayor Jeffrey Edwards, but did not 
hold a scheduled first reading of the document during Monday night's 
meeting. The budget proposal removed all money for a new Senior 
Citizen's Center, but kept funding for an Artisan Center intact.
    Much of the discussion during the meeting centered around the 
Artisan Center project, which Edwards has proposed for the downtown 
area. Council members have voiced concern for several months that the 
old building, located near the Farmer's Market, is not a suitable 
location, since it would require such extensive work for renovation.
    During Monday night's meeting, several council members voiced their 
concern as to whether the  building would be able to be used even 
after renovation. Council member Lea Hammond asked if it would be 
possible to tear down that building and put up a metal-type structure 
on that site at about the same cost that has been discussed for the 
project.
    While the future of an Artisan Center continues to be questioned by 
council members, Hammond stated Monday that the city already owns the 
property that is being discussed. "We can't do anything about the 
property that we have already purchased...We have to go forward," she 
said.
    After the lengthy discussion, Edwards suggested that the proposed 
budget be put on hold until council members have an opportunity to 
look more in-depth at the figures. He also appointed a committee, 
consisting of council members Hammond, Gary Dabney and Tracie Sexton, 
to look at what the costs would be to tear down the proposed Artisan 
Center building and possibly replace it with another structure.
    The city accepted a donation of property that will allow them to 
widen Short Street to alleviate traffic congestion, that includes 
many large trucks and commercial vehicles on that thoroughfare. 
Jeffrey Smith addressed the council on behalf of the First Christian 
Church board and building committee.
    He noted the church is involved in a large project in that area and 
there has been concern about the heavy traffic congestion along Short 
Street. The church board offered to give the city 12 feet of land on 
Short Street, as long as the city would take care of excavation and 
street widening.
    Smith said that they would also like to see some sidewalks and 
lighting in that area.
    The council unanimously accepted the donation and approved the 
project. Smith said that surveying will be completed and a deed will 

be drawn up to convey that property to the city.

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