Saturday, February 23, 2008

Stormwater scheme spreads to Snellville

Our city fathers (and mothers) are set to adopt a Stormwater Utility Ordinance on Monday, February 25, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. The consultant that prepared the research in support of the tax [I apologize, it is a fee. Well, that certainly feels much better to my wallet.], will make a presentation at 5:30 p.m. in advance of the meeting.

I have many issues with these so-called stormwater fees and I've voiced my concerns to elected, staff, and consultants. Rather than rant on my philosophical objections to such a revenue scheme, I'll address a few issues specific to Snellville's proposal. My comments are in response to details contained in three documents available at the City of Snellville website titled Stormwater part 1, Stormwater part 2, and Stormwater part 3. They're quite similar to a horror movie with increasingly frightening sequels.

In Stormwater part 1, the monster first appears in the grotesque form of stormwater runoff. Our hero, the City responds, however, not by attacking runoff, rather by taxing [darn it, sorry again, levying a fee on] impervious surface (that's the roof above your head). What is really scary is that the fee is determined by adding up staff time (the City Manager will spend three times as much time on stormwater issues than the Public Works Director if you believe the research - I don't), administration and regulatory costs, operations and maintenance, and capital investment (that doesn't increase a cent from existing investment according to the initial proposal). Stormwater part 1 concludes with a most frightening scene claiming 55% of fees go to capital investment, operations and maintenance. The remaining 45% of fees going to overhead, regulatory compliance, and bureaucracy that sustains the creature to terrorize again.

And terrorize he does. In Stormwater part 2, we are frantically attempting to escape failing pipes, damaged catch basin lids, sinkholes, and illegal dumping. This monster we've created requires an estimated $1.9 million in immediate repair or replacement. See, isn't it getting scarier?

As our terrorizing trilogy ends, Stormwater part 3, scares the beejeebees out of me and I haven't gotten beyond the title yet, "Future SWMP Funding Strategy". This monster is planning future expenditures that will mandate future fee increases [I did not say tax increases - I'm catching on to the lingo now]. Most horrific is that the scheme raises only $271,000 more than current revenues to address the immediate needs as it dangerously replaces existing general fund investment in public works with the new stormwater utility fund thereby increasing the monster's appetite by over $400,000 for new general fund spending on as yet unaware victims.

One thing is for sure, this Stormwater Utility Ordinance is scary stuff and not for the "little ones."

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Is he or isn't he?

Snellville's Interim (finally achieving the title) City Manager departed last week leaving the position unfilled pending completion of the search currently underway with a national firm. The Mayor, as the City's Chief Executive, will fulfill any requirements until the Council confirms a permanent City Manager. Some oppose the Mayor honoring his commitment to the City by exercising the duties and responsibilities charged him.

In the words of Tertullian, "Thus [the opposition] has seized upon the opportunity provided by certain words, in accord with the usual practice of heretics, of twisting the simplest things." Against Hermogenes, AD 206

The opposition is "researching" whether the Mayor may hold two positions; serve in two capacities, and on, and on. So, is he or isn't he? Jerry, I mean . . .

Is he or isn't he the Mayor? Why yes, of course, we all recognize he is the Mayor and the City Code reads, "The mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the city government, shall enforce the laws of the city and shall require the faithful performance of all administrative duties." Pt II Code, Ch. 2 Admin, Art. III Officers and Employees, Div 2 Mayor, Sect. 2-171 Gen. Authority

Is he or isn't he the City Manager? No, he is not. The Mayor is not the acting, interim or any other kind of City Manager. He is the Mayor. He is not holding two positions; he is doing what he is required to do. The City Manager's duties as provided in the City Code are, "Except as otherwise provided by general or local state law, he shall be the chief administrative officer of the city, and shall exercise executive supervision over all city employees and departments." Pt II Code, Ch. 2 Admin, Art. III Officers and Employees, Div 2.5 City Manager, Sect. 2-191 Office created, appointment

The language of the City Code is clear. Shall is mandatory. The Mayor shall require the faithful performance of all administrative duties. In as much as the City Manager shall be the chief administrative officer, it is clear the position of City Manager has always been subordinate to that of the position of Mayor.

Is he or isn't he holding two offices? He is not. He is holding the office of Mayor and no other.

Is he or isn't he appointed to two offices? He is not. No one has appointed him to any office.

Is he or isn't he compensated for two offices? He is not. He continues to receive the handsome sum of $6,000 per year as Mayor. He receives nothing more as he is serving only as Mayor.

Over 100 capable, dedicated employees, led by an outstanding team of Department Directors, serve our City daily. While the political winds may be rough, left to perform their jobs without interference, it's smooth sailing with Snellville's staff.

Monday, February 11, 2008

U.S. 78 road work begins Sun., Feb. 17th

Georgia DOT contractors take to the streets this Sunday evening and begin the long awaited removal of the reversible lane and light system on U.S. 78 in Gwinnett County. The project is divided into four sections with Section 1 beginning at East Park Place and continuing to Stone Drive.

Sometime after 7 p.m. and before 5 a.m. on Sunday evening, February 17, 2008, C.W. Matthews Contractors will begin re-striping the travel lanes on U.S. 78 so that beginning Thursday morning, Valentine's Day, Section 1 will have three permanent lanes inbound to Atlanta and two permanent lanes outbound to Snellville. The striping will also include a center turn lane the length of Section 1. Once the paint drys, the overhead lights will be no more.

The majority of construction activities will take place after 7 p.m. and before 5 a.m. Work will begin on the south side of U.S. 78 in Section 1, then transition to the north side of U.S. 78, and finally conclude with construction of the median.

Construction information is available via the Georgia DOT #511 phone system or website. You may also find frequently updated details at and subscribe to receive construction updates via email.