Snellville council members looking for common ground

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

SNELLVILLE -- For about 18 months, it's been relatively quiet on the political scene in Snellville.

In the wake of the most recent elections, a harmonious balance was reached that allowed Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and council members to move forward with projects that promote economic development and a sense of community pride in the city.

In the past few weeks, political rumblings are once again being heard, especially in city council meetings. On Monday evening, Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Bender took the opportunity to set the record straight on questions recently raised by councilwoman Kelly Kautz, insinuating political impropriety involving T-shirts printed for Snellville's Independence Day celebration.

Bender's campaign logo announcing her run for the mayor's seat in November appeared on the shirts. Kautz cried foul, saying that the nonprofit Snellville Tourism and Trade had no business printing and distributing campaign ads on T-shirts.

Bender made it clear Monday that the T-shirts were not STAT products but an independent effort to involve sponsors in the city celebration at $140 per ad. According to Bender, "There was no wrongdoing." The shirts were a product of the screening company and not STAT.

Councilman Tom Witts also weighed in on the subject of infighting and innuendo, stating that Kautz's recent accusation that former Director of Planning and Development Harmit Bedi's resignation was the result of pressure brought to bear by some council members.

Witts stated Monday that Kautz contacted media outlets herself to say that Bedi was not a member of Snellville's political "clique" and left his position as a result.

Witts emphatically denied that he had anything to do with Bedi's departure and admonished residents to pay attention to who works together and who works against the council.

"Great things are happening in Snellville, and most citizens know who was and was not involved," Witts said. "I will correct and expose half-truths, innuendos and lies."

Witts went on to advise residents to watch for themselves and make public any inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

"It's the one thing that will stop all this," Witts said.

Current budget

amended, balanced

Following July's financial report delivered by City Manager Russell Treadway and the recent lowering of the city's millage rate to 5.7 mills, Bender moved Monday to remove about $128,000 worth of paving projects from the current year budget. According to the mayor pro tem, lowering the millage rate would have put the city in a "deficit situation," necessitating the need for the change.

Councilman Tod Warner supported Bender's suggestion, though he is a proponent of repairing and maintaining the city's infrastructure. Kautz disagreed with Bender's motion and suggested removing other items from the budget, including a plotter and software that, according to Treadway and Witts, are necessary to city operations.

Both Bender and Kautz were attempting to balance the current budget in light of the $300,000-plus shortfall that will result from lowering the millage rate. In the end, Bender's motion was approved.

Dr. Ito honored

Dr. Richard Ito, a Snellville family physician, was honored by the mayor and council Monday evening with a proclamation lauding his contribution to the Snellville community as a family doctor. The loving father and husband passed away unexpectedly recently, leaving behind his wife Mary and their four children. Mary accepted the proclamation Monday, thanking the council and residents in attendance for the gesture.