By JARED JERNAGAN
FILLMORE -- After months of discussion and speculation, it is now legal to operate golf carts on Fillmore streets.
In a 3-0 vote Thursday night, councilmen Alan Jones, Jeff Osborn and Wes Terhune passed Ordinance 2010-8, which allows for the operation of golf carts and similar vehicles in the town limits.
After a special meeting on Monday night, the council had a couple of major questions for town attorney Mary Russell, which she answered at Thursday's meeting.
The first answer was easy: the state requires a driver's license if a municipality wants to allow for the operation of golf carts on the road.
The second matter was that of the cost for a yearly inspection. While everyone agreed a yearly inspection by the Fillmore Police Department was necessary, Jones was adamant the inspection not cost.
Terhune said he thought there should be a fee to at least cover the cost of decals for inspected vehicles. Town Marshal Darrel Bunten agreed.
"They're not paying for the inspection, they're paying for the tag," Bunten said.
The council eventually came to the unanimous decision that the cost would only be enough for the town to cover its cost for buying the tags. The fee for golf cart owners will be decided upon once tags have been purchased.
Other provisions of the ordinance include:
* Each cart must display a slow moving vehicle sign.
* A cart must have operating lights on front and rear if it's operated between dusk and dawn.
* Operators shall indicate turns with hand signals if signals are not installed on the cart.
* Carts shall have no more passengers than there are seats.
* Operators may not exceed 20 miles per hour or the posted speed limit, whichever is slower.
* Carts must display a permanent Fillmore Police identification number.
Bunten said he will be available, by appointment, to make golf cart inspections.
Council passed a pair of other ordinances regarding a storm sewer fund in the town.
Fillmore will be reapplying for a storm sewer grant this fall, but in order to be considered, the town must establish a storm sewer fund within its budget.
Because such a fund has not previously existed, and council does not wish to raise utility rates in order to establish the new fund, they had to pass two new laws.
The first established that $1 from each customer's wastewater bill each month will now go into a storm sewer fund, established by the second new ordinance.
Council made it clear that this move does not raise rates, it simply changes the allocation of the funds from the wastewater payments.
The fund, though, puts Fillmore in a much better position to qualify for the second round of storm sewer grants from the state. Osborn reported the state has allocated an additional $15 million in grant money for such projects. In this second round, only municipalities that applied the first time, like Fillmore, may apply.
"We're hoping this fall to have a second shot at a storm sewer project, which this town desperately needs," Osborn said.
At meeting's end, Terhune also expressed his appreciation to the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church for its project to supply all students of Fillmore Elementary with backpacks and school supplies.
The complete story of the church's gift will appear in Saturday's Banner Graphic.