SNELLVILLE -- Mayor Kelly Kautz on Monday delivered the annual State of the City address during the regularly scheduled council meeting. The mayor's presentation outlined her accomplishments during her first full year of office, beginning her comments with her observation that several people asked her how she could present a positive message with "such unfriendly things going on in the city."
Pointing out that she is the first woman ever elected mayor in Snellville, Kautz pointed to the wall of mayors, photographs of past mayors in City Hall, as one of her accomplishments. Establishment of the Arts Commission, the city's second annual Martin Luther King Jr. "march" and her trip to Turkey representing Snellville were also listed among her initial accomplishments.
Also included in the mayor's comments were the service delivery settlement, Snellville's first official observation of Flag Day and the hiring of City Manager Butch Sanders. In the future, Kautz revealed she would like for the city to hire a grant writer and a public relations specialist.
The mayor also announced plans to annex property into the city; specifically, The Avenue Webb Gin. She wants to see more parks and greenspace, as well as development of the Wisteria Square ("bridge to nowhere") property as a destination, with a stage, a fountain and arts center.
Kautz remarked that she wants city staff members to stop thinking in terms of cutting corners to save money. "I'm tired of hearing, 'Well that's how they do it in Suwanee," said Kautz, saying that she wants people to start thinking of Snellville in terms of an example and not just a redevelopment opportunity. Kautz said she is not in favor of "outlandish spending" but did say she wants staff members to start thinking big in terms of planning.
Resolution passed regarding Johnson Lake dam repairs
Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts added a resolution urging the Summit Chase Homeowners Association to take immediate action on pipe repairs that are costing Snellville taxpayers money to Monday's council agenda. At issue is a disagreement over who is responsible for certain mitigation and repairs with respect to pipe repairs.
According to Witts, the city has already paid $34,000 toward repairs, and the resolution presented Monday strongly urges the SCHOA to pursue all means of funding repairs, including requiring the contractor responsible for the damage to pay to fix it.
"Right now, every homeowner in Snellville has $5 invested in Johnson Lake for repairs, and the lake is privately owned by Summit Chase homeowners," Witts said.
Homeowner Association President Pat Port said Monday she does not appreciate the last-minute resolution insinuating that SCHOA is not acting on the matter. "We own the lake, but not the dam," Port said.
Kautz recused herself from voting on the resolution, but councilwoman Diane Krause did not, although they both live in Summit Chase. Krause SAID she would never be in favor of taxpayers paying to repair private property, while Kautz SAID she intends to make sure Summit Chase property owners have the same fair consideration as any other property owners in Snellville.
The resolution passed 5-1, with Sabbagh casting the only "no" vote and Kautz recusing herself.
New sign-in policy angers some residents
The recently enacted policy of requiring residents who want to address the mayor and council at City Council meetings to sign up to do so has drawn the ire of some residents. Former Councilman Tod Warner and city resident Dennis Lawton both said Monday the practice discourages some from speaking publicly and some ideas occur to people during council and mayor discussions, so everyone may not know before a meeting starts that they want to speak.
When Warner concluded his remarks, Kautz asked him to come forward and sign the sheet of paper. Warner refused, saying that he is not required to do so.
Swinney shares settlement money
Marilyn Swinney, the Snellville resident who was awarded $15,000 after her constitutional rights were violated when Kautz interrupted and halted her comments at a July council meeting, announced Monday that she donated some of that money to several organizations. Those organizations include the Snellville police department, a group home for 16 special-needs children, the Southeast Gwinnett co-op, St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the Snellville Veterans Memorial.