SNELLVILLE -- No taxation without representation. That was the theme for two council members during Tuesday's special-called meeting to discuss the expansion of Evermore Community Improvement District another 3.2 miles along U.S. Highway 78 in the city.
The expansion was proposed by the executive board of Evermore CID as a way to help improve the city and its surrounding areas.
"We have the opportunity to change the face of the community for the the next 20-30 years," said Jim Brooks, executive director of Evermore CID. "Our job is to help create infrastructure. We want to help make the city better than it is now."
According to Evermore CID's Web site, "The Evermore Community Improvement District is an association of property owners along U.S. 78 in Gwinnett County that voluntarily tax ourselves in order to make our community a great place to live, work, and shop."
The current CID consists of 508 property owners that begins in Stone Mountain and goes all the way to the Snellville line. The proposal includes 182 properties that will help generate $164,000 a year in new revenue for the CID.
With the possible expansion of the CID along U.S. 78, concerns were raised about ensuring there was representation for those that could possibly be affected if the council allowed the plan to proceed.
"I'm not saying I'm against it, I'm just concerned about the representation aspect," councilman Tom Witts said.
Part of Witts' concern stems from the fact that the city hasn't had a representative on the board for more than a year, a concern that was echoed by councilman Bobby Howard.
That's when the real fireworks started between the mayor and two council members.
"The fact that we haven't had a representative on the board for over a year is very concerning to me," Howard said.
Mayor Kelly Kautz said that had nothing to do with what was put on the table, adding the work session was about whether to allow the CID to extend the 3.2 miles along U.S. 78.
"If you want to take issue up with no representation, take that up with me after the meeting," Kautz said. "We don't need to be airing the city of Snellville's dirty laundry out in front of everyone."
There are currently four posts which are elected, with two being elected every year. According to Brooks, that vote will come through the property owners.
However, councilman Dave Emanuel asked how an owner in the city would have a fighting chance to get elected.
"If two people are up for election, one from the Stone Mountain and one from Snellville, how do we get someone from Snellville to have a reasonable chance at being elected?," he said. "Those owners are going to see the person from Stone Mountain as being able to do more for them instead of the one from Snellville. If this is going to work, we need to fix the problems now and not wait until we get too far down the road."
Katuz said that it wasn't up to the mayor and city council to persuade that decision. Instead it should be up to the individual property owners.
"We have to let educated property owners make that decision," she said. "That's not our place to make that decision for them."
Kautz asked for solutions from the two council members, with Witts saying representation would be the best solution.
As the conversation continued, Howard and Kautz continued to go back-and-forth with Howard not being able to finish his questions to the CID board of directors. Instead, Howard got up and walked out of the meeting.
However, the debate wasn't over as Witts picked up where Howard left off, again mentioning how troubling it was to him that there was no representation.
"The other CIDs discussed (Cumberland, Town Center) had representation from every area on that board," he said. "There's no guarantee here."
Before Brooks or any other board member could respond, Kautz called an abrupt end to the meeting leaving multiple questions still to be answered.