Snellville Council Meeting Notes: Jan. 23
If you missed the city council meeting, here is a synopsis of what happened January 23, 2012.
There were a few fireworks at the Snellville City Council meeting, but just a few. Seems everyone was much more muted than the previous council meeting. At one point, Mayor Kelly Kautz mentioned that everyone involved in the fracas was certainly "ashamed."
Still, there were some interesting things that, at the very least, were quizzical. After weeks and weeks and weeks, Councilman Mike Sabbagh stepped down from his mayor pro tem role, and it seems that the city attorney hasn't been paid in months. Also, someone we expected to easily be confirmed for a placement on the Planning Commission didn't get the appointment after all.
Here's a quick run-down of the meetings major happenings:
1. Department Report: Mid-Year Financial Report
Item: City Manager Russell Treadway went over the city's mid-year financial report for the current fiscal year.
Action: At the end of the second quarter, general fund revenues totaled $5.9 million, representing 63 percent of total revenues budgeted for the fiscal year, and 99 percent of revenues projected through December 31, 2011. Treadway said there was a bump in revenues because of the late timing of county property tax collection, and the city is not expected to collect much more in revenue this fiscal year.
General fund expenditures totaled $4.6 million, or 49 percent of total expenditures for the fiscal year. This was nearly 100 percent of the expenditures projected through mid-year. Expenses have remained fairly constant.
As far as cash flow (a monthly account), revenues and expenditures are slightly below projections. Net revenues and expenditures are $79,700, or nerly 6 percent below budget projections.
The ending fund balance in the general fund was $3.7 million. Treadway said this was the first time in the past three years that there has been a positive fund balance at this time of the year.
The city is in a good position to move forward with several projects, including Oak Road Park, Briscoe Park phase two, additional stormwater projects and the LCI project. "Overall, right now, the financial condition of the city is good," he said, adding that he was "very gratified to report that."
2. Public Hearing: Consideration and action on text amendment to Town Center Overlay District
Item: According to the city's alcoholic beverage ordinance, "no person may sell or offer to sell any alcoholic beverage in or within one hundred (100) yards of a house of worship or two hundred (200) yards any school grounds." Some city officials wanted to change that within the so-called "Town Center Overlay District." South Gwinnett High School and Snellville United Methodist Church, for example, are located within the overlay district. (See attached alcohol beverage ordinance.)
Action: This measure passed in a vote of 4-2, with Mayor Kelly Kautz and Councilman Mike Sabbagh voting not to sell alcohol near schools and churches within the overlay district. There was no public comment.
3. New Business: Consideration and action on mayor's appointments to a number of city boards.
Item(s): Unlike previous presentations of this item, this time council considered each individual nomination. There were initially a total of ten, but the mayor removed her nomination of Gina Foster to Board of Appeals. Kautz also withdrew her nominations of Judges Mark Layng and Angela Duncan as city judges, as they are already sitting judges in Snellville.
- The nomination and confirmation of former Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer to the Planning Commission failed in a 3-3 vote. Council members Dave Emanuel, Diane Krause and Bobby Howard voted against Oberholtzer's appointment.
- The nomination confirmation of Christy Lenksi to the Planning Commission passed with a vote of 4-2. Kautz, Sabbagh, Howard and Councilman Tom Witts voted for the appointment.
- The nomination and confirmation of Wayne Odum to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board passed with a 6-0 vote.
- The nomination and confirmation of Ricky Rowe to the Urban Redevelopment Agency failed in a 3-3- vote. Kautz, Krause and Sabbagh voted for, and Howard, Emanuel and Witts voted against.
- The nomination and confirmation of Patricia Port to the county/municipal planning commission passed 6-0.
- Each nominated art juror -- Deborah Kepes, Jonathan Cates and Jean Baldwin -- passed 6-0.
- The nomination and confirmation of Judge Dawn Taylor as a city judge failed. There was no second to the motion made by Sabbagh.
4. New Business: Consideration and action on selection of city parliamentarian
Item: The city would like to appoint someone as the official parliamentarian for the city. And, it is currently looking over candidates.
Action: This item was postponed so the mayor and council could review their choices more thoroughly. It will be put on the agenda for the first meeting of February.
5. New Business: Consideration and action to allow council to comment on city attorney "engagement letter"
Item: This is related to the fees assessed by the city attorney Stuart Oberman. According to a letter sent to the city on November 22, 2011, Oberman informed the city of his fees for consideration. They included: $225 an hour for Oberman's normal services, $130 an hour for any services by his associates, $80 an hour for any work by paralegals and $300 an hour for attendance at city council meetings.
City officials said, as of January 23, that Oberman had not been paid for his services, despite being appointed the city attorney. Patch has submitted a request for the total owed Oberman, and we will share that promptly.
Action: This item was discussed by council, and Patch will bring more from this as we learn additional information.
6. New Business: Consideration and action on election of mayor pro tem
Item: For a number of meetings now, the majority of council has questioned Mayor Kelly Kautz's appointment of Councilman Mike Sabbagh as mayor pro tem. Council members Dave Emanuel, Diane Krause, Tom Witts and Bobby Howard believed it to be the will of council to vote on this appointment, and the mayor has maintained that it is up to her discretion.
Action: Before there could be a vote, Sabbagh stepped down citing increased responsibilities and requirements of his job. However, he said that he would serve if council approved it. It took no time at all for council to vote Witts as the mayor pro tem, though. This vote passed 5-0, with Witts recusing himself.
The mayor later said that allowing the vote -- against her previous assertions of her power to decide this appointment -- does not mean that "it is a power that I'm waiving." However, speaking to her opponents on the issues, "This is something you've made clear is going to be put on every agenda here on out."
As the city's leader and statesman, she hoped this move would be seen in the spirit of harmony. "If it is for the betterment of our community and if it will bring an end to some of the infighting that has gone on in this council, I believe that it would be appropriate for the council to elect the mayor pro tem." But, the decision is not be taken as a precedent for future mayors, she said.
7. Council Reports: Every council member made a report, but one that particularly stood out was that of Councilman Dave Emanuel. He reported that his Chevrolet Silverado went up in flames recently. It's completely destroyed, he said. But, what really disturbed him he added, is that some folks thought it was an act of arson by people in the city who do not agree with his political notions. But, he said, "investigators found no foul play."
(Editor's Note: This article has been altered from its original version to clarify that Judges Mark Layng and Angela Duncan are sitting judges in Snellville's municipal court.)