Let’s Talk About Council
Last night we held our second council meeting of the year. So, let’s recap the voting meeting held January 4th and the work session held January 18th.
The first voting meeting of the year was meant to be intentionally light as the newly elected council members and Mayor were being sworn in the same night. The swearing in for Mayor Jones and Councilmember Freeman occurred in person. However, the swearing in for Councilmembers Bryant and Crowe was virtual. I am unclear on why or how there was a difference.
As we moved into the regular meeting, an attempt was made to add 2 items to the agenda that was not on the published agenda. This requires unanimous consent to add items at the last minute. The items were to appoint a new mayor pro tem and to replace the council member appointed to the DDA board. By unanimous consent only the appointment of a new mayor pro tem was added to the agenda.
January 4th Regular Meeting
A. The proposal to utilize Clark Patterson Lee to fill the part time interim Public Works Director position was approved. Director Tavenner retired at the end of 2021; he will be missed! This proposal will have an engineer from Clark Patterson Lee for 16 hours / week help fill the technical aspects of this job. The City Manager, Public Works Foreman and Supervisor are all working together to fill the remaining duties. The position was also posted, and interviews should be conducted in the next week or two.
B. Council approved by a vote of 4-2 the funding for a Celebratory Inauguration Event for the Mayor. The event was held on January 8th at the Women’s Garden Executive Club.
C. Appointment of a new Mayor Pro Tem: This item opened with nominations to the position. Councilmember Bryant nominated herself; Councilmember Monroe made a motion in support of the nomination however, the motion died as it did not garner a second. Councilmember Freeman nominated himself and Councilmember Crowe nominated me. After much lengthy discussion and numerous attempts to garner the majority vote needed to secure the appointment, I withdrew my name from consideration. However, this still did not garner the 4 votes required to appoint Councilmember Freeman to the position. Three councilmembers voted in favor, 2 voted no and I abstained. As the position does not have an expiration or end term, I am still acting in the position until I am replaced by a majority vote of council per the Charter.
New Ordinances and Resolutions:
A. Resolution 2022-01 was adopted to appoint City Clerk, Alicia Daniels as the Elections Superintendent for 2022.
B. Resolution 2022-02 was adopted to set the election qualifying fees for 2022.
C. Resolution 2022-03 was adopted allowing open container use to occur during the upcoming Mardi Gras Parade on February 26th from 1pm to 7pm.
January 18th Work Session
I think it is important to note that the Work Session of Council is just that, a working meeting. This is not the voting meeting; therefore, all items are for discussion purposes only. The items will be voted on at the next voting meeting, which is always the first Tuesday of the month. (Fair warning this was a lengthy agenda!)
Reports were given by committees, staff and City Manager.
A. Discussion on the variance application for 5280 Poplar Springs Road. There was also a public hearing before the work session on the same item. The requestor is wanting to build a new home on a vacant lot; however, the lot does not meet current zoning dimension standards.
B. The application for alcoholic beverage privilege license for ART Station was discussed. Due to the pandemic, they were unable to open until late 2021 and their previous license was not renewed. Per code they must apply for a new license.
C. Council selection of Mayor Pro Tempore – discussion started with Councilmember Monroe and Freeman wanting to table the item. I felt that if there were to be a resolution to this issue the discussion needed to be had amongst the full body of council and in a public forum. In my opinion it was implied that the people voted in new council members because they wanted to see change and replacing me in this position was part of that change. I take offense to the implication that I am part of a perceived problem that must be dealt with. And said as much last night. I also reiterated, that I did not request to be Mayor Pro Tem at the last meeting and hold the position because they failed to garner the votes needed. I expect this to be a continued item.
I will say this: regardless of my title I have and will work hard, diligently and humbly to be of service to my community. I will continue to do so; a title does not change my desire to be of service and I believe my track record backs that up. One does not have to tear down another to lift themselves up.
D. Appointment by the Mayor to the Board of Ethics: Velma Howard and Bob Bell
E. Appointments by Council to the Board of Ethics (I apologize for any misspellings!):
a. Cox – Alisha Shipp
b. Monroe – Chauncy Parker
c. Johnson – Shani Linder
d. Freeman – Stacey Green
e. Bryant – Mary Maiden
f. Crowe – Tracy Cumbie
F. Appointment of Councilmember to the DDA. Long discussion on this item. I currently serve in this capacity and apparently some councilmembers would like to replace me. However, per Georgia State Law O.C.G.A. 36-42-4 “The term of a director who is also a member of the governing body of the municipal corporation shall end when such director is no longer a member of the governing body of the municipal corporation.” Again, I contend that I work hard in this position to be of service to our community. When the DDA was without a director early in 2021 I stepped up to act as the interim in order to ensure the DDA maintained their active status with DCA.
G. Council declaration of City assets as surplus for sale. In order to dispose of city assets that must be declared as surplus by the council. The items to be declared surplus are the public works bucket truck, which would need about $11,000 in repair and is used only a few times a year. Instead, it is proposed to rent a truck when needed. Additionally, 4 older and in poor condition police vehicles. Two new police vehicles are in the budget for 2022. Once declared surplus, the city would list the items on govdeals.com for public auction.
H. Georgia Fresh for Less Program – this program allows the City to offer SNAP / EBT participation at our farmer’s market.
I. Appointment of the Stone Mountain Community Garden Committee. Current members are Columbus Brown, Juliana Pierre, Pat Sabatelle and Chakira Johnson. There is room for a 5th member, committee members must be active in the community garden for a year prior to serving on the committee.
J. Traffic Control Device Requests
a. Discussion was had on obtaining additional traffic study data for JBR, 4th and Ridge and then scheduling public meetings to discuss the findings and solutions.
b. A 4-way stop has been requested at Cloud and Ridge. A previous traffic study at the intersection will be updated and re-evaluated. Residents would like the 4-way stop and the removal of the existing rumble strips.
K. Discussion was had on holding a meeting between Mayor and Council. Mayor stated this could be a team building exercise. Councilmember Bryant was pressing for a date for the meeting. Council will get with city administration to tie down a date for the meeting.
New Ordinances and Resolutions
A. Resolution 2022-04 Official Signature Required for bank accounts. In a special call meeting held prior to the work session it was voted to have Councilmembers Freeman and Monroe added as signatures to the account in addition to the Mayor and City Manager. Each check requires 2 signatures and typically that is the city manager and mayor, whoever in the mayor’s absence she can request one of the 2 councilmembers to sign the checks.
B. Resolution 2022-05 FY 2021 Budget amendments, this is a house keeping item as the 2021 budget year is being closed out, year-end adjustments are required.
C. Resolution 2022-06 FY 2022 Budget amendment; this amendment accounts for the purchase of cell phones for the Mayor and Freeman, as well as the cost of the inaugural event held January 8th.
Thank you everyone for the calls, emails and messages. The support is greatly appreciated!
Disclaimer: This City Council Recap is taken from my personal notes and memories of the meeting. For the official minutes of the meetings please visit the City web page.