Snellville's stormwater projects on track

SNELLVILLE -- City public works director Gaye Johnson presented an update of her department's stormwater projects progress during Monday night's City Council meeting. Snellville has implemented a storm water utility fee for the same reason Gwinnett County did -- federal mandates require local governments to clean up their acts when it comes to water.

Repair and maintenance projects, however, are very expensive, and while the federal government requires local governments to take these projects on, the means by which to fund them is up to those same, smaller governments. Johnson's Monday presentation gave Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer, council members and residents a good idea of where their money is going.

One sinkhole repair project on Hidden Forest Drive has already been completed. Five more projects are in the hopper and should be complete by early fall: Chapparal Drive, with an estimated cost of $37,364; Vine Street, with an estimated cost of $11,030; Ravenwood Drive, with an estimated cost of $22,086; Summit Chase Drive, with an estimated cost of $16,960; and Summit Links Court, with an estimated cost of $27,610.

Phase of the repair list includes Flagsmoor Court, Crescent Drive, a second project on Hidden Forest Drive, Colony Circle and Bent Trail. These projects will go out for bid this fall.

Johnson praised her staff for its hard work and emphasized the critical need for the drainage system repairs throughout the city. "These stormwater tasks are a must and can't be neglected," Johnson said.

The director also listed the inspection and maintenance responsibilities of her staff, then thanked city leaders for their decision to build a new public works building.

Ethics ordinance will have to wait

Councilwoman Kelly Kautz presented an ethics ordinance for an approval vote on Monday and urged her colleagues to follow suit by voting "yes." This issue has been listed on council meeting agendas for months and sponsored by Kautz but even after all that time, other council members were not happy with the way the proposed ordinance reads.

Councilman Tom Witts said that it leaves too much to the discretion of council members, making ethics investigations a political process rather than an independent one. He also said that council members and even board members (most of whom are unpaid volunteers) would suffer possible exposure in the event of malicious or frivolous accusation. Witts added that the city needs an ethics ordinance, "not a weapon."

While Kautz expressed her frustration that none of these concerns was aired in council work sessions, she and the other council members voted to postpone a vote on the ordinance until they and the city's board chairs could meet to review it.

Snellville has for years been recognized as a City of Ethics, but the Georgia Municipal Association recently changed its requirements for cities to achieve that distinction.