Council Met with Concerns on Trash Collection, Rezoning
Five public commenters expressed their opposition on various topics at Monday's meeting, including a Family Dollar store moving in, and SPLOST funding being used for Lewis Road.
It definitely wasn’t the largest crowd the Powder Springs City Council has faced in the past year or so, as those meetings typically only come from awards, special recognitions or appointments.
But Monday night’s meeting did see the largest amount of dissension in that time period—five public commenters as compared to the usual zero.
First up was former Councilman Tom Bevirt, who served three terms before losing in last year’s elections. He raised the same concerns that current Councilman Al Thurman did in last week’s work session: the $500 in the proposed fiscal 2013 budget for economic development not being enough.
He said the money tied up in the defunct Development Authority of Powder Springs—which has previously been suggested at $90,000, but he believed to be up to $120,000—should be utilized.
“I don’t know why ya’ll have not been able to wrench loose that money,” Bevirt said. “I think some cities in the condition that we’re in would move mountains to get at that money.”
Bevirt suggested finding a legal way to get to the money, or forming a committee for the organization that could decide what to do with it.
“You are aware I’m sure, Mr. Bevirt, that the city has no control over the DAPS money,” Mayor Pat Vaughn said.
Bevirt reiterated that the council should try to get committee members together. He said that when current interim City Manager Brad Hulsey was mayor 12 years ago, he appointed Bevirt to the committee with the sole aim of obtaining funding for the city’s website.
“There’s got to be a couple more people in this town who would be willing to serve on that board, not for a long, long time, but certainly long enough to get something going,” he said.
Later in the meeting, Bevirt returned to the mic during an explanation of the proposed 2013 budget. This time he reiterated a suggestion made during last budget season by former City Manager Rick Eckert—outsourcing trash pickup.
He said money was found for the previous budget to keep the eight or nine sanitation workers employed and the service going. “However, there was nothing wrong with the plan (to outsource the service). … Unless something’s changed in several months time, the city would save money.”
The proposed budget has additional expenses of about $1,000 for increases in the cost of dumping, and a loss to revenues of nearly $10,000. The losses mostly come from customers outside the city dropping the service.
That customer base has gone from as high as 1,500 to 640, Finance Director Amy Davis said. “So we’ve lost more than half,” she said.
Hulsey said the city is dealing with competitive rates, “but we also have had a company in particular who has gone out and said the city would no longer be offering service outside the city, which is an incorrect statement.”
Hulsey said he has been in contact with the company about the false claim.
Bevirt questioned if the city was prepared for if the remaining 640 dropped the service, and whether there is an ordinance within the city limits keeping residents tied to the city service.
The city website says the Code of Ordinances requires the service for city residents at $18.50 a month; the rate is $20.50 for those outside the city.
Bevirt said he knew of a company offering a rate of $10 a month, which includes recycling.
“What is going to happen if the citizens here in the community start wondering why their friends or relatives, enemies are getting their trash collected cheaper?”
Monday was the first reading of the budget, with one more required before the July 1 start of fiscal 2013.
Three of the other commenters spoke against the rezoning of the property at 3824 Powder Springs Road from “low-rise office” to “community retail commercial”. The move, plus some code variances, will allow a Family Dollar to move into the spot, which formerly housed a bank.
The residents, who all live on Forest Hill Road, expressed concerns with traffic and possible influxes of crime. One said there is other retail space in the city better suited for a Family Dollar.
A representative from the Garrard Group, a commercial general contractor and developer, said he has received the final go-ahead from Cobb DOT. He said additional steps have been taken to ensure traffic won’t become an issue, like more left turn space on Forest Hill, and making sure a once-a-week delivery truck turns both in and out from Powder Springs Road.
The council passed the rezoning and variations 5-0.
The last speaker, Powder Springs resident Jim Collins, questioned the need to use SPLOST funding to extend Lewis Road from its current ending—Marietta Street—to Old Lost Mountain Road. He said there are three other ways already to connect the points.
“Because obviously when a train’s coming through the town you get tremendous backups in there,” said Don Hicks with the city’s engineering firm, Croy Engineering. “So this will allow access from where Lewis Road dumps into Marietta (Street) around to Old Lost Mountain Road.”
Collins noted a lack of development around the city, and said the Lewis Road project was being made with “futility" and that the money could be “more wisely spent.”
Vaughn said the city is “hopeful” that “things will turn around” for more development to move into the city.