SNELLVILLE -- Bill Peterson, owner of Wild Wings Cafe in Snellville, presented a $5,000 check to the city of Snellville Monday night, for use by the police department's K-9 unit. Peterson also presented a $300 check to the same department for needed software.
Peterson, known in Snellville for community involvement and support, has also raised funds for the Wounded Warrior initiative, city resident Aimee Copeland and breast cancer research.
When Peterson presented the check to Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts, he said, "It's not Wild Wings that does this. It's the community." Two human K-9 officers were on hand for the presentation, as well as a frisky but obedient canine officer.
Mayor, council butt heads over attorney bills
Mayor Kelly Kautz and some city council members argued extensively Monday about payment of some attorney bills and nonpayment of others. City Attorney Tony Powell, at councilman Bobby Howard's request, outlined some of the services for which his firm, Webb, Tanner, Powel, Mertz and Wilson LLP have billed the city over the last six months. The unpaid bills to his firm total $94,305.76.
According to Powell, that amount covers many services for the city performed by his firm, including research and preparation of ordinances, more than $8,000 paid in advance for subcontractor services on Snellville's behalf, and the widely publicized "Anderson matter," in which political ethics watchdog George Anderson publicly questioned the city's ethics ordinance, as well as those of Witts and councilman Dace Emanuel. In that matter, Powell's firm was successful in court, eliciting a public apology from Anderson that said, in part, "I humbly ask your forgiveness" with Anderson retracting accusations he had made previously.
Powell's firm also represented the city when Kautz sued council members, and the tab for that matter was more than $21,000. A Gwinnett County judge ruled in favor of the council members' contention that the mayor does not, in fact, have unilateral power to hire and fire a city attorney. Kautz contends that Powell's firm should not have been involved in that matter, as the lawsuits were filed by her against council members personally, not the city.
"I am a patient man, and my partners trust me. We are grateful for the work," Powell said Monday, "but I would like to be paid." Council members apologized to Powell for having to wait that long for payment, and Howard said he hopes that this will never happen again.
Councilman Mike Sabbagh said that he would not vote to approve payment of the invoices, as there were some "ambiguities" about which he had questions. Witts, Emanuel, Howard and councilwoman Diane Krause all voted to approve payment in full of the invoices. Kautz voted against full payment, stating that she had questions about some of the line items and had presented her concerns to Powell's firm in a December 2012 letter.
There lies one reason for the disagreement, since Kautz retained the firm of Cruser and Mitchell LLP to represent her in the Marilyn Swinney case, in which Swinney claimed that Kautz violated her civil rights by preventing her from speaking at a public council meeting last year. Kautz said she hired Cruser and Mitchell to defend her as mayor, not her personally, in the matter. Cruser and Mitchell's $1,385 invoice was paid, without council members or city manager Butch Sanders having seen the bill.
"I never saw a bill until today, and that's because I asked to see it," Emanuel said.
According to Emanuel and Howard, the firm of Cruser and Mitchell was informed that Tony Powell was the city attorney when Kautz hired them, and that any bills they submitted would not be paid by the city.
"Under cover of darkness, a check was written to Cruser and Mitchell," Howard said. Kautz denies any wrongdoing, stating that the mayor does not have to present bills to council for payment. "A mayor has never had to put an invoice on record for approval," Kautz said. Witts and Howard said Monday that they do not know of an elected official in the United States who has the right to pay anything from taxpayer dollars without authorization.
No council members voted to approve payment of that bill on Monday, while Kautz cast the only vote to approve payment.
Witts said later in the meeting that he would like to put on record a date of May 17, 2013, by which the invoices submitted by Webb, Tanner, Powell, Mertz and Wilson LLP, should be paid.
Brooks updates mayor, council on CID work
Jim Brooks, executive director of the Evermore CID, updated mayor and the council Monday on the progress of several CID projects. Recently celebrating 10 years of service to the city and the CID corridor, Brooks highlighted landscaping projects, business alliances, flags placed throughout the city and other successes of the organization.
"I hope you've all seen improvements in that time," Brooks said.
Brooks also said that street sweepers, a recent addition to the arsenal of tools backed by the CID, benefit both the stormwater system as well as aesthetics.
"We are doing the best we can," Brooks said.
Sanders presents 2014 budget
City manager Butch Sanders has presented a $10,382.802 budget to council, which will be available for public review online and in City Hall on Tuesday morning. Working within the confines of the sputtering economy's effects, Sanders said that he is still pleased with the budget. In the proposed document, Sanders has earmarked funds for grant application and other sources of revenue for the city.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. on May 31 at City Hall. The budget will be presented to council for approval at the June 10 council meeting.
Kautz honors parade committee
Kautz read a proclamation Monday that recognizes members of the Snellville Days parade committee for their hard work this past year, although the parade was cancelled due to inclement weather. A birthday party was held at City Hall instead, with members of the community and committee present.
Swinney, during the public comments portion of Monday's meeting, told Kautz that she was disappointed that the volunteers who worked the Snellville Days festival were not recognized, as well.
Resident Joel Davenport also addressed the council during public comments, asking again for Kautz's resignation. Davenport points to political dissension, unnecessary lawsuits and wasting of taxpayer funds as reasons for Kautz to resign.