During the city council campaigns earlier this year, the various candidates promised to have open communication with their constituents. Last night that promise was fulfilled as Post 3 Councilman Alex Wright and Post 4 At-Large Councilwoman Jeanne Aulbach hosted a town hall meeting at the Avocet clubhouse. About 60 residents attended the two hour Q &A style meeting, and judging by the turnout and audience response it was definitely a success.
The council members opened the meeting by introducing themselves and giving brief updates on the progress of the city so far. The floor was then opened to questions. There were a couple of questions about ZIP code changes (your ZIP code is not changing- you can use Norcross, Duluth or Peachtree Corners as your city name, but you will continue to use your existing zip code).
There was a question or two on the new sexually-oriented business ordinance and whether or not it signaled an effort by the city to close down the Love Shack, and what effect such an attempt would have on the fledgling city’s finances (the Love Shack is here and it's legal, there are no plans to try and shut it down if it’s not violating any laws).
And there were a couple of questions about the new city hall (it will be located at 147 Technology Pkwy, in the front and left side of the top floor only, not the whole building). In an ironic twist, it was revealed that build out on the space cannot begin yet because of the permit moratorium.
To no one’s surprise however, most of the questions centered on the recently adopted $2.7 million budget. Of specific concern were the line items for city manager salary and benefits, IT services, call centers and why the budget was so much larger than projected in the CVI study.
Councilwoman Aulbach made the point several times that just because a certain amount of money was budgeted for a particular item, that didn’t mean the council was necessarily going to spend that much on it. Councilman Wright made an apples vs. oranges analogy and gave some examples of where the CVI projections didn’t match up to actual budget items. At least three times during the evening a resident thanked Mr. Wright for his ‘no’ vote on the budget, each time receiving loud applause from the crowd.
Mayor Mason was recently quoted in the AJC as saying, “it’s been annoying the crap out of me” that residents were accusing the council of "spending gone wild." One resident told councilman Wright after the meeting that if there had been more meetings like this before the budget vote there would have been much less anger and confusion.
Hopefully the mayor and the other council members will take a hint from Mr. Wright and Ms. Aulbach and hold more of these townhalls in the future.
P.S.- Don’t forget the following scheduled council meetings:
Tues. 7/10 @ 6:00pm, Public Hearing on the millage rate to be held at the Hilton on Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Thurs. 7/12 @ 7:30pm, Special Called Meeting, to be held at the YMCA
Tues. 7/17 @ 7:30pm, Public Hearing and vote on the millage rate to be held at the Hilton on Peachtree Industrial Blvd.