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.