Powder Springs Mayor Answers Ex-Councilman's Criticisms
“I’ve taken the high road, but ... I’m going to address the concerns from now on,” Pat Vaughn said.
Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn spoke for nearly 20 minutes at the end of Monday’s City Council meeting in response to former Councilman Ra Barr’s latest letter to Patch.
“I don’t normally do this, but this has gone on for about 2½ years, and I’ve taken the high road,” she said in the council chambers at the Community Development building. “But … I’m going to address the concerns from now on.”
In Barr’s letter, he questions city spending—notably council members voting to raise their own retirement pay—while recent media reports have discussed possibly dangerous patrol cars for the Powder Springs Police Department.
Police Chief Charlie Sewell was merely laying out plans for the future at the last council work session of 2011, Vaughn said, and there is no immediate danger.
“In looking at the fleet of cars, he wanted to make the council aware of some of the needs for some new police cars,” she said. “I do not think it was Chief Sewell’s intention whatsoever to threaten the council … and to imply that everybody is unsafe.”
Sewell was “very upset” after reading one report from a newspaper, and another newspaper left out some parts out of the story, the mayor said. "Sometimes the media will try to make a sensational story."
In Barr’s letter, he says former Chief L. Rick Richardson told council members of possible vehicle dangers. But Vaughn said Richardson only requested new vehicles and didn’t say current ones were dangerous.
As a result of the retirement increase, Vaughn said she will receive only $160 more instead of the $480 mentioned in Barr’s letter. She said to get the retirement, council members must serve eight years, but, at six years as a councilman, Barr was the only one grandfathered in.
“If you would like to … you’re certainly welcome—or anybody—to give their retirement back to the city,” the mayor said.
Also in response to Barr, Vaughn said:
- The stormwater fee is based on the square footage of impervious surface for all buildings except houses, which will universally be charged $36 a year. “So it doesn’t make any difference if it’s a $1 million piece of property or a $20,000 piece of property.” She also said collections from the fee can go only to stormwater purposes.
- The city is “fortunate enough” to have sponsors for the council’s annual retreat. The mayor said that in her 16 years on Powder Springs’ legislative body, she has paid 95 percent of her expenses. “I do not charge mileage or anything, so I wanted to make that clear. And I’m not the only one; I have council members that do not charge mileage and different things.”
- Public Works Director Greg Ramsey hasn’t expressed a need for new garbage trucks.
- The Coach Ford Center’s Reception Hall does run at a loss but is used by many organizations for various events. “That facility was to be used not as a moneymaker but … for the citizens of Powder Springs to use. And that is precisely what we use that for.”
- The mayor’s phone budget is $1,730 for the current fiscal year, and she has used $800 so far.
- The Senior Center’s monthly $250 phone expense is because the facility is billed like a business, and the charge includes Internet.
Vaughn said she will follow up with a written rebuttal to Patch.
The mayor also noted that her State of the City address has been postponed from today to March 20 so she can see the results of the community assessment.