Category Archives: Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

Do you believe the citizens of Johns Creek realize what a drastic amount of Road improvements are about to happen due to the t-splost? In spite of having at least seven meetings around this area, only those who have actually gone to the City Council meetings and seen physically what is going to happen will anyone realize the catastrophic degradation of our way of life. I encourage everyone reading this to come to City Council meetings take a comment card and fill it out. I am Momma nature – I speak for the trees and I am sickened by the amount of devastation happening here. There should be nothing called clear-cutting happening here but it does and you know it. Where do you think these animals are going to go? These trees are giving us oxygen and in some cases shade. Do we protect them? I don’t think so. Our children are watching us to see if we have the intelligence to protect our environment. Air water and soil quality have been abused and taken for granted. Let’s wise up. Momma Nature Former master naturalist- resigned recently so I can focus on environmental degradation around me in Johns Creek.

-Carol Madan

Introducing the Residential Authority of Fulton County

I’d like to propose (for illustration only) a new agency for Fulton County.  We will call it the Residential Authority of Fulton County(RAFC).  This authority will do for residents what the Development Authority of Fulton County(DAFC) does for businesses.

Fulton County needs to attract some of the best and brightest residents out there who are looking for new homes.  There are many attractive locations, and it would be in Fulton County’s own best interest to attract them here.

We can attract them by helping them get the financing they need for their homes.  We will help them to float bonds for their residences, and offer tax incentives for those that are willing to purchase those bonds.

thankyouCurrent residents that are already in their homes?

We will offer you a hearty thank you. Thank you for not questioning our actions.

Thank you for continuing to pay the full taxes on your property.

Thank you Thank you Thank you. (If you are one of our valued residents come in and chat-we may be able to work a favorable deal for you as well).

We will also offer through the RAFC property tax breaks for you that will lower your cost of residency during your first ten years.  We will lower your property taxes by 50%, and then slowly increase your taxes over the years.  And if needed to keep you happy, we will work with you to help lower those taxes in other ways as well.  We are here for you.

Current residents that are already in their homes, and paying the full tax rates without any abatements-once again we offer you a hearty thank you!

Once a month, the RAFC will get together and look over the list of those who have applied for an inducement to have their residence within Fulton County.  We will be evaluating you based on what you say will be the benefits of having you here.

Are you a high income earner and will be spending dollars?  There’s a plus.

Going to be hiring a maid and lawn care and nannies?  Babies on the way? Greater purchases of goods and job creation is always a plus.

Building a new home versus a resale?  Even better. Raw materials purchased.  Building permits and inspections. More jobs.

So we invite you to apply.  Make your case.  Help make Fulton County a better place for all.  Your RAFC will make the right choices picking the right new residents for Fulton County.

Crying-baby-cartoon_0For those current residents who will be living besides our beneficiaries of the RAFC, do not be concerned, upset, or feel cheated.  These new residents will add value.  They are bringing in new construction projects, jobs, and other intangibles.

We assure you this will not lead to overbuilding or speculation in our markets.  Do not look at these new residents as getting a tax break at your expense.  Look at it as incremental revenue that we will spend on behalf of everyone.

Let’s create the RAFC and do for residents what we are doing so well for our business community!

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Now that you have a sense of how the Residential Authority of Fulton County might work, you can see why I would oppose the Development Authority of Fulton County, and the prospect of a Development Authority of Johns Creek.

It picks winners actively and losers passively.  Current businesses pay more taxes than those that make deals with the DAFC.

It encourages speculation and overbuilding.

My list is long as to why I think the DAFC is a bad idea.  Despite the fact that “everyone has or wants a development authority”, it artificially stimulates demand for commercial space.  It also comes with a price: Property Tax Abatements.

Treat everyone and every business equally.  If the idea is accepted that lower taxes stimulate(as the DAFC can affirm by why it does what it does), then lower taxes across the board for EVERYONE.

Lower business taxes for everyone.  It’s the only equitable way to do business.

If you create a business environment that benefits ALL participants then that is the single best thing you can do.

Do not penalize current businesses by giving newcomers better deals and tax breaks.

It’s just that simple.

If you create that sort of environment for your businesses, you will not have to “induce” them to be in your community.  Instead, they will beat a path to your community, and everyone will benefit.

Sincerely,

Ernest Moosa

Why are we Creating a District?

dear_mr_mayor By Royce & Nancy Reinecke

Establishing the “whys” for a District is essential before we run off to create a District and then later decide whether it met our needs or not.  Therefore, I would like to focus my questions on trying to understand why we are creating a “District” so that I can better judge whether whatever is proposed meets the needs.

The first why stated by the Mayor is To focus our commercial development and redevelopment in the District so as to preserve our existing neighborhoods.” 

I would agree that we have a history of allowing commercial development at practically every location where two roads meet.  This has led to a number of strip malls scattered throughout our city, and to resident concerns whenever they hear about another retail shop being built next to their subdivision.

QuestionDoes construction of the District mean that the city will stop permitting commercial development or redevelopment elsewhere in the city and that all future commercial development must occur in the District? 

I can see the benefit of concentrating commercial development so as to provide a destination and critical mass, but our city consists of four subareas – Newtown, Warsaw, Ocee, and Shakerag – and Newtown and Warsaw already have important shopping districts.

QuestionIs it reasonable to require residents of Newtown and Warsaw to drive to the District to shop in order to focus commercial development? 

The District is currently an office park and would add another shopping district to the many that already exist in Johns Creek.

QuestionWhy not focus retail shopping re-development in already existing commercial areas instead of adding another shopping district where one currently does not exist?

Did You Know The City Of Johns Creek Has A Revenue Problem?

Over the last year, in several different venues, City Council Members have spoken the words – the City of Johns Creek has a revenue problem.  The more discussions occur regarding “the District”, the more often the words are spoken.

Did You Know:

  • The employees of the City of Johns Creek salaries are one of the highest in the state of Georgia.
  • The City of Johns Creek provides a 17%22% retirement program to all employees.
  • The City contributes 12% of employees’ salaries into their retirement accounts labeled profit sharing annually.  This is in addition to the 5% match of contributions.
  • All employees of the City of Johns Creek receive COLA (cost of living increases) as well as merit increases annually as part of the budget.
  • All employees of the City of Johns Creek have received COLA increases every year including the years of the Great Recession.
  • When Johns Creek became a city in 2006 the underfunded road resurfacing situation assumed from Fulton County was assessed at approximately $15 million.  And to date that number has increased to $40 million unfunded.
  • Since the City’s inception, only one subdivision’s roads has been resurfaced using 100% City dollars.
  • In 2014 the City decided that road surfacing was a priority and as part of this resurfacing effort, the City of Johns Creek took on $4 million in debt from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
  • The City of Johns Creek has a reserve of approximately $25 million not restricted by day to day needs.

Do you Think the City of Johns Creek has a revenue problem?

Signed,

Concerned Citizen of Johns Creek

 

Over-Development is Impacting our Quality of Life in Many Ways

I am very concerned about the over development of Johns Creek, presently well underway.  Every time I turn around there is another surveyor showing up on the ever shrinking green space, always followed by devastation of pristine land.

Clear cutting has become the norm, and should not be permitted acceptable. It seems citizens are made aware long after the ‘plan” is to far along to effectively stop.

I want to gather as many people as I can to actively work towards influencing the council members to be more responsible in protecting our city from over development.  They must be encouraged to do what is right for Johns Creek  citizens- to put a stop to the clearing of our rapidly disappearing green space.

This rapid over development is negatively impacting our quality of life in too many ways to mention here.

I believe the vision of the powers that be in Johns Creek is NOT in unison with the majority of the residents.

Candice Timms

5 Does Not Equal 7: City Charter Examined

5_7At the last meeting,  Councilman Gray said  “I’ve got to look for a compelling reason to have the election scheduled in a certain time or another”.

I will state several compelling reasons.

The Charter says we shall have 7 members. Our council was designed to operate with seven members.

The Charter tells us we want an empty seat filled promptly by the way it handles a vacant seat in the case of suspension or resignation. And we have two.

Our City Charter says if we have less than six months before the end of the term, the council shall appoint a successor for the remainder of the term.

If we have more than six months, that the city council shall order a special election to accomplish one objective: To fill the balance of the unexpired term.

The state gives four dates to hold the election, but that was not the state’s blessing to delay the elections at your will.

Today the balance of the unexpired term is 339 days for the post 2 vacated seat.  The election that you voted for will fill that seat for less than 58 days.

Do not deny the intent of our charter. The Charter at every possible time indicates that the seats should be filled.

There are operational issues that the council did not address, such as the Removal of a council member after an ethics investigation. Section 2.16.B.1 Requires five votes to remove a member. Not a majority.

The intent of the Charter is Not for the Mayor to have absolute Veto Power.

The intent of the City Charter is actually quite clear. Five does not equal Seven.

When is less representation better than more representation?

Eliminate the potential issues. Letting any portion of the balance of the unexpired terms expire between March 17th and November 3rd because of your action is denying the intent of the charter.

I ask you to reverse your decision and schedule the elections for March 17, 2015.

Thank you,

Ernest Moosa

Link: The City of Johns Creek Charter

Tom Radford’s Points to have Special Election

Dear Mr. Mayor:

Thank you for taking the time to call me on Wednesday to clarify the Charter per my previous emails. Legal language can be confusing for a lay person like me.  After our conversation and further research, I was guided to the GA law you are referring to under O.C.G.A. § 21-2.  This is the statute that deals with the timing of special elections.  After hearing your clarification and reading this statute, I understand your explanations.     

Additionally, I am also satisfied with your explanation about the definition of a majority (GA law 50 + 1 votes and your further explanation about plurality).  

I believe it is helpful to send out a survey to the community soliciting the voter’s opinion on special elections; however, the biased information that has been published prior to the survey arguing why we should not have a special election may have influenced many voters who are not completely informed. 

I feel strongly that a special election should be held for the following reasons:

1.      By postponing the election, your experience will continue to far outweigh the experience of the current city council combined with 2 empty seats causing an imbalance without having a full council seated. 

2.      Having a special election sooner than later will expedite the learning process for the new members and bring them close to the same level as existing members allowing more comprehensive decision making.  

3.      Since we only have had a full council for about 6 months out of the last 3 years, we should get the seats filled as soon as possible so that the city is operating as designed per the Charter.

4.      Lastly, the city is currently sitting on over $30 million dollars making the investment in a special election less than 1% of available cash on hand. Full council representation is well worth this investment to make sure that there is a balance in decision making.

I want to thank you for your patience and your thorough consideration of whether to hold a Special Elections.  As a servant of the people, our opinions are not necessarily the voter’s view, so we should never influence one way or the other, but share non-biased information and let their voices be heard.  

Thank you for your patience in this matter and your service to our community. 

Respectfully, 

Thomas Radford

City Council Attendance & Cost Consideration for Special Election

Dear Johns Creek Voters,

You may have received an email from the City of Johns Creek asking for your thoughts on when the city should hold a special election to fill the council seats recently vacated by Brad Raffensperger and Kelly Stewart.  The possible election dates are March 17, June 16, Sep 15, or November 3, 2015.  Whoever is elected to complete Brad Raffensperger’s term will have to run again on November 3, 2015.  Whoever is elected to complete Kelly Stewart’s term will have to run again in November, 2017.

The following table shows the attendance record of council members from January 1, 2010 to the present.  The city holds about 22 to 23 city council meetings per year and based on a salary of $15,000 per year per council member, that equates to a cost of $650-$680 per council member per meeting, present or not.  The Mayor makes $25,000 per year.  The table shows the number of meetings each council member attended, was absent, and attendance percentage.

Councilmember Attended Absent Attendance
Lenny Zaprowski 21 0 100.0%
Brad Raffensperger 66 1 98.5%
Bev Miller 78 2 97.5%
Mike Bodker 106 4 96.4%
Cori Davenport 20 1 95.2%
Randall Johnson 84 5 94.4%
Karen Richardson 84 5 94.4%
Ivan Figueroa 85 6 93.4%
Steve Broadbent 8 1 88.9%
Kelly Stewart 79 11 87.8%
Dan Mcabe 34 9 79.1%
Bob Gray 7 2 77.8%

Based on the above history, we can estimate with confidence that the most likely attendance rate of council members is some value between 85% and 99%, with 92% being the midpoint of the range.  If the council remains as is with only five members and a quorum requirement of four members, then the following table shows the likelihood of having five of five members at any one meeting, the likelihood of having a quorum at any one meeting, and the likelihood of having a quorum at all 15 meetings scheduled between March and November.

Range of Attendance Estimates
85% 92% 99%
For any one meeting
   Likelihood five of five members 44% 66% 96%
   At least four of five (quorum) 83% 94% 100%
Likelihood of quorum at 15 mtgs 6% 43% 99%

We see from the above table that the likelihood of having a quorum at 15 consecutive meetings scheduled between March and November is only 43% if the attendance rate of council members is at the midpoint of 92%.  This compares to a likelihood of 98% for a council fully staffed at 7 members as shown in the table below.

Full council           Range of Attendance Estimates
85% 92% 99%
For any one meeting
  Likelihood of seven of seven members 31% 56% 94%
  At least four of seven (quorum) 99% 100% 100%
Likelihood of quorum at 15 mtgs 82% 98% 100%

 

Alternatively, if you believe the city is adequately represented with five council members, the city could revise its charter to reduce the number of council members.  The following table shows that there is no substantial attendance benefit to a seven member council over a five member council.  A seven member council is likely to operate at less than a full complement more often than a five member council.  A five member council would save the city $30,000 per year in overhead costs.

          Range of Attendance Estimates
85% 92% 99%
Likelihood of seven of seven present 31% 56% 94%
Likelihood of five of five present 44% 66% 96%
Likelihood of at least 4 of 7 (quorum) 99% 100% 100%
Likelihood of at least 3 of 5 (quorum) 97% 100% 100%

I hope you find the above informative and helpful in formulating your thoughts for the city.

Sincerely,

Nancy Reinecke

20 Yr Resident Speaks Out “Imminent Issue of Billboards Coming”

lettertoeditor_bar Letter from Michele