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Mayor Issues Veto, Council Overrides

Sandy Springs City Council members overrode the veto, however, during, Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

 

A difference of opinion on how city staff came to recommend a new arborist to improve the permitting process, led Mayor Eva Galambos to issue her first veto since Sandy Springs’ incorporation.

City Council members overrode the veto, however, during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Galambos announced her intention to issue a veto When Council members approved staff recommendation for an arborist/landscape architect in a split vote during the March 20 meeting. The part-time position would cost $17,146.

The Mayor believes the position would add a step to a permitting process that is already negatively perceived, by the public.

“I think this is a total waste of taxpayer money,” said Galambos, at the March 20 meeting. This did not emanate from the City Manager. The City Manager was jostled and told to come with figures.”

During her veto message on Tuesday, the Mayor said: "Adding personnel by Council initiative supersedes the normal process whereby the City Manager, who is supposed to be closest to the administrative and day to day activities of the Departments, would initiate a request for more staffing."

Councilman Tibby DeJulio echoed the Mayor at both meetings saying the Council had moved from making policy to operational decisions, which is the job of city staff, he said.

“I’m not opposed to tree inspections,” he said. “What I’m opposed to is this Council micromanaging the process. If [Commuity Development] can’t get the job done…they would’ve come to us…and said, 'We need to go ahead and have additional staff…' But for us to tell them they can’t do the job, and they need people to do the job, that’s micromanaging the city.”

The Councilman added that Sandy Springs is a $90 million business that is run like other businesses of its size vs. other municipalities such as the City of Atlanta. 

Chip Collins and other Council members disagreed with the Mayor and DeJulio’s take on how city staff came to recommend the part-time position.

"My recollection was that we decided or at least had a consensus that we were in favor of exploring the concept of pre-inspection.,” Collins said. “And then my recollection is that we asked; we weren’t ready to just go ahead and say, ‘And we want you to hire…' We asked staff to come back to us and let us know if that is something that they can do with their existing staffing levels."

Collins added that he agrees with the Mayor in her desire to improve delays in permitting. "I get hounded all over the community about the process," he said.

Anthony Poselenzny April 04, 2012 at 11:19 AM
It is so easy to spend other people's money. This decision by the council sets a very bad precedent!
Brian Oravetz April 04, 2012 at 12:33 PM
This does not bode well for our city. One of the highlights of this city government is that it has historically taken the course of action that provides for limited government. We have grown used to, and expect, to have to go looking for government in our city; not for our city government to start making rules and policy for the sake of making rules and policy. It seems as if our council members want to become like the cliched government bureacrat. We have enough government intrusion in our life, we do not also need, or want a city council that feels like it needs to start taking it slice of time in our lives. Even though this dispute is over a part time position, it does show a new tendency that seems to be rising to take more control. Perhaps it is time that the council members who feel that they know better how to run operations, as opposed to sticking to policy, need to go. They should stick to a very high level, limited government type of policy making.
Charles Chambers April 04, 2012 at 01:09 PM
WHICH City Council members voted to override the veto, however, during Tuesday’s City Council meeting? Shouldda' been in the article!
Jan R April 04, 2012 at 02:08 PM
If you lived in or near the southern portion of Sandy Springs you might disagree. We have experienced repeated instances of clear cutting when doing tear-downs and rebuilds. Personally, I am thrilled that the Council overrode the Mayor's veto. The fact that she vetoed a $17,000 expenditure is ridiculous. I didn't notice the Mayor or Council turning down the huge salary increases the state legislature gave them this past session. A 50% increase for Council members, and a $15k increase for the Mayor. Granted, their pay rates are low, but those increases represent substantially more than for a part-time development inspector. The fact that developers have complained that the process is too slow means that the process itself (as it existed before this inspection was added) indicates that some streamlining is needed elsewhere. The snottiness in our city and the lack of consideration for some residents' neighborhoods is disturbing. I wonder if the 3 of you read the Mayor's originally stated reasons for the veto or the Development office's support for this position, which they believe will also help eliminate the backlog in applications.
Brian Oravetz April 04, 2012 at 02:39 PM
This has nothing to do with being "snotty" about southern Sandy Springs. That's nothing more than hyperbole. The issue is that the council overstepped its bounds. The council is for making policy, not legislating operations. Why is it ridiculous that the Mayor vetoed $17k? It is still $17k, and it still must be approached in a professional business manner, not an emotional one rooted in the fact that someone wants trees cut. So let me get this straight. You say, developers claim that the process was already slow; and, you want to add another person and an entire city council in the process. Then you call for "streamlining". How does that work? Adding a "council" into an operations role does anything but "streamline" anything. In fact, it only introduces bureaucracy and bureaucrats. Again, that never, ever streamlines anything.
Brian Oravetz April 04, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Why do you have a chip on your shoulder Jan? You say we are snotty towards other neighborhoods. Why? Not one thing that I sad has anything to do with whatever neighborhood you live in. You're the one being snotty; and extremely presumptuous to boot. You also ask if we've read the mayors position. It is a moot question because you failed to read my comments, which clearly addressed a stance. One that has nothing to do with your question. We want the same thing: A better Sandy Springs. But I'm not willing to accept it at the expense of giving ANY more leeway to the politicians. I'll leave the city if that happens, as will a lot of others. We are here because we like a well run, non-obtrusive city. IF it becomes more intrusive, you people that rely on the government, can have it. Then you'll end up like every city with invasive government. Which will be what you deserve.
Gabriel Sterling April 04, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I don't normally engage on these threads, but as one of the City Councilmembers that voted to override the Mayor's first veto, I feel I should respond. For those that don't know, I'm a conservative. I've been in the trenches for over 25 years working for conservative reform. I loathe making new rules and regs for the sake of making new rules and regs. As an example, I was the lone vote against registering dogs if you have 4 or more of them. The Council, in talking with citizens, developers and staff heard that on site pre inspections could actually help the process. Having worked with many in the engineering and building community, I know there are many times you discover things on site that you would never know under the fluorescent lights of city offices. Discovering an issue early in the process...as opposed to the middle of the process, will save the landowners and builders money, as well as save taxpayer money & time on our staff work. Staff said this would be a good thing to do. I think it will be positive. They said they could not do it with the current staffing levels. They told Council that it would take a 3/5 Full Time Equivalent to do the work appropriately. The Council followed the protocol we've had in place since our inception. The vote was overwhelming to override Mayor Galambos' veto, because we believed the concerns she raised did not fit with the way the change actually came about. Only one councilman, Tibby DeJulio, voted to uphold the Mayor's veto.
Anthony Poselenzny April 04, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Gabriel, in business this is one of the oldest tricks in the business. The problem presents itself and the city manager is notvheld accountable to fix it at budget. So then the boss, in this case the council, decides it has a solution but it will cot more. Throwing manpower and money is always the easiest and first solution. But, we should have told the city manager that in this instance we are dissatisfied and we expect him to speed the process up at budget. Of course he will complain that he can't. But that's part of being the boss is to send him back and tell him, one you want the facts about the process, and two, you want three or four at budget solutions. You may have to tell him to do this more than once so he takes you seriously. You wll be amazed how creative folks will get with bringing solutions to the table. The most creative word in the English language is, no. Please, let's get back to the correct processes and stop spending other people's money without making it extremely difficult.
Anthony Poselenzny April 04, 2012 at 06:03 PM
By the way, I am not pleased that you and the other council members approved this. From my point of view you've done a poor job in this particular instance. You have now sent a message to the city manager that he can play you for more money in his budget. That is a very bad precedent. He should be scolded for letting these complaints build up without resolving them and be told that we don't ever want this to happen again. Very poor. A bad job.
Gabriel Sterling April 04, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Anthony, you and I will have to respectfully disagree on this one. We have been trying to find innovative ways to make things better for all parties involved. This is worth a shot. If it doesn't work, we change it. We have tried things before, the paving in place for instance...it didn't work...we changed direction. We will keep an eye on this as it is implemented....let's remember, this is the Council that rebid every contract we had to save millions in taxpayer dollars. I personally have been digging into ways to repeal certain antiquated laws and find additional ways we can save money. This is, in my opinion, an example of our system working. I put this under the " an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Catching issues on the front end is cheaper for all involved than finding them in the middle.
Jan R April 05, 2012 at 12:57 AM
I didn't realize that I have a chip on my shoulder - I'm just someone who has gone to many a City Council meeting and had many communications with council members and our mayor. I did read your comments. The council was not added into the process - all they did was authorize an additional expenditure of $17k and 1 part-time employee. I think you're the one overreacting. BTW, I don't know why you think I rely on the government. I don't. My area has been targeted for redevelopment simply because it isn't made up of new mini-mansions. That is the snottiness I refer to. That, and having our city council and mayor choose which developers they'd like to have redevelop the properties that they consider necessary to redevelop. Talk about intrusive government? BTW, I just reread my comments and reread yours (all of them). I didn't call you any names, nor disparage your character or opinion. But you made several such comments about me and people "like me". Who is being emotional?
Jan R April 05, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Thank you for your comments Mr. Sterling.
Brian Oravetz April 05, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Jan, this is your statement that earned the tenor of response that was delivered to you: "The snottiness in our city and the lack of consideration for some residents' neighborhoods is disturbing." It implied that people have a snotty attitude towards those who do not live in McMansion type neighborhoods. That's why it comes across as if you have a chip on your shoulder.

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