Snellville projects won't be fast-tracked

SNELLVILLE - For months now, Snellville officials and staff have been considering "fast-tracking" city projects that are earmarked for SPLOST 2009 funding. The top three most pressing projects identified by Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and council members are Baker's Rock, the new public safety building and the new public works facility.

By borrowing $8.5 million now, at an interest rate of no more than 4 percent, some council members and the mayor suggested that taxpayers would realize a huge savings as opposed to waiting to start and complete these projects. The borrowed money would allow "fast-tracking" of the three identified projects, since construction would not have to be done on a pay-as-you-go basis as most SPLOST projects are done.

But other council members suggested that borrowing money for which taxpayers are liable is irresponsible in this volatile economy.

"I don't believe in borrowing. I believe in investing, especially when it's someone else's money," councilman Warren Auld said. He did, however, agree that the $2 million Baker's Rock project and the public safety facility were pressing enough to fast-track.

Auld did not agree, however, that building a new public works facility is as critical now. When councilman Tod Warner presented photos Monday of dilapidated buildings, holes in a building roof, expensive city equipment exposed to the elements and probable EPD compliance issues, Auld said that Monday night was the first he had heard of such problems with the public works facilities.

Councilwoman Kelly Kautz said that she had no issue with the identified projects; she simply would not vote to borrow $8.5 million.

Councilman Robert Jenkins said that, while he supports building a new public safety building to keep the city police department a step ahead of the growing crime, he didn't support the Baker's Rock purchase initially and would not support fast-tracking that commitment now.

Warner, who made the motion to fast-track all three projects, would not amend at Auld's request his motion to allow consideration of each project separately. Warner had, in effect, asked council members to approve fast-tracking all three projects or none at all.

With a vote of 3-3 on the matter - Oberholtzer, mayor pro tem Barbara Bender and Warner voted "for"; Jenkins, Auld and Kautz voted "against" - the motion failed.

Oberholtzer expressed his belief that the votes against fast-tracking the new public works building were politically motivated and not based on fears about the economy.

Bender declares

candidacy for re-election; city clerk appointed

Barbara Bender announced during Monday's city council meeting that she would be running for re-election to Post 4, the council seat she currently occupies.

While she acknowledged that the job is sometimes tough she added, "There is no reason in the world that we can't be like Suwanee, or become what Norcross is becoming, or what Sugar Hill and Duluth are working toward."

Melisa Arnold, who has served as Snellville's interim city manager since former city clerk Sharon Lowery left to work for Dunwoody, was appointed the new city clerk by Oberholtzer on Monday. Arnold accepted the appointment.