Sunday, December 28, 2008
By DOUG NURSE /
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, December 28, 2008
It was going to be so perfect. Fed up with perceived inefficiency and neglect from Fulton County, the newly incorporated cities of Milton, Johns Creek and Sandy Springs were going to provide the same or more services at the same tax rate.
Their founders were so sure of that when they formed the cities, they capped the property tax rates at the relatively low millage rate of 4.731, the same level the county had taxed residents in these north Fulton communities.
Chattahoochee Hills in south Fulton did not limit property tax millage when it incorporated and has almost doubled the rate.
Timing, as they say, is everything. Now, revenues from sales taxes, permits and fees are flat or falling and cities all over Georgia are struggling along with the national economy. And the new cities are finding they don’t have the traditional options available to governments wanting to keep the same services: raising taxes and going to the bond market to borrow money.
The new cities’ leaders are concerned, having cut revenue projections already. Some are saying the situation might get worse, and they are expecting even more declines in revenue.
“There could be some real problems in terms of our ability to meet basic service demands in two or three years,” Johns Creek City Manager John Kachmar said. “We haven’t seen a drastic decline in revenue because there’s a lag, but we’re gaming out what could happen. We’re worried about what’s down the road. It’s very hard at this time to predict what any fall-off will be.”
It’s a rough time to be starting out. Chattahoochee Hills, a south Fulton city, was launched Dec. 1, 2007 — the month the recession started. Sandy Springs was launched Dec. 1, 2005; Johns Creek and Milton on Dec. 1, 2006; Dunwoody incorporated Dec. 1.
Sandy Springs is probably in the best shape, partly because it has a larger commercial tax base. Assistant City Manager Steve Rapson said officials saw early on that they needed to drastically reduce some of their revenue projections.
Chattahoochee Hills may be in the worst shape. It has a small population – 2,500 people — is mostly rural, with only 1 percent of its property developed commercially, and patrolling and maintaining its 57 square miles of roads is expensive. The city nearly doubled its property tax rate — it has no cap — the mayor and City Council members are working for no pay, and they are even taking turns mowing the lawn at City Hall.
The millage cap
Perhaps the biggest financial impediment facing north Fulton’s new cities is the cap on the property tax rate.
Proponents pushed cityhood promising better services, local control — and low taxes. Their legislative sponsors imposed a legal cap on their millage at 4.731, the same rate Fulton County charged at the time. And they set the bar high to raise property taxes, requiring a voter referendum before increasing taxes above the cap.
The low-tax, small-government message resonated among many north Fulton residents.
State Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), who sponsored the legislation founding his city, said organizers thought it was important to make sure taxes did not exceed the cap without the people’s consent. “I think it’s a pretty good safeguard,” Willard said.
Other north Fulton cities adopted the same language in their own charters.
The low millage was fine as long as commercial and retail business thrived and the area grew. But now, it’s potentially a problem.
“Other cities have the ability to raise taxes to offset declining revenues,” said Milton Finance Manager Stacey Inglis. “We have to be more creative in trying to find more revenue. We may start charging for services, such as false alarm calls, where other cities just eat that charge.”
Christopher Bloor, a Milton resident, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the city cut services to the essentials, such as public safety and roads. “Things in Milton have always been tight,” Bloor said. “Other than Police and Fire departments, what services has the city offered? But we haven’t seen a lot of quality of life services offered [by Fulton County] anyway.”
Johns Creek resident David Kornbluh said he never was a fan of the millage cap. “I always thought it wasn’t the wisest thing to do,” he said, “but it was required to sell [the idea of cityhood to voters]. The numbers were not analyzed as thoroughly as they could have been.”
In south Fulton, Chattahoochee Hills has no cap on property taxes. Officials found the $2.3 million revenue projected in a pre-incorporation viability study to be off – by about $1 million. As a result, the City Council voted in September to increase the property tax rate from 5.6 mills to 10.9 mills.
Phillip West, a 20-year resident, said in an interview after the vote that the city did the only thing it could do, given the circumstances. “Yes, this is a hard pill to swallow,” West said. “But nobody knew the economy would turn down the way it did.”
Carol Wolfe, director of administration for Chattahoochee Hills, said the viability study relied on 2005 and 2006 economic data. “I don’t think we could have made it if we’d had a cap on the millage,” she said.
Obstacles to borrowing
When facing big-ticket construction projects, cities traditionally borrow money through the bond market, said Monte Vavra, Johns Creek’s finance director. That may not be an option for the new cities.
Wolfe, the Chattahoochee Hills official, said general obligation bonds require a city to commit taxes to pay the debt. That’s why they’re attractive to investors, who are guaranteed a return. So cities ask voters to cover the debt.
Issuing general obligation bonds requires a referendum. What are the odds of success?
When asked, Inglis, the Milton official, shook her head. “Zilch.”
In a survey last year, Milton residents were asked whether they would be willing to tax themselves extra to improve parks, build senior centers and make traffic improvements. The No. 1 response from a list was: “Don’t spend any more than what is generated from current tax base.”
Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said he believes people would tax themselves if a convincing business case were made. “There’s no question it handicaps the city, but it forces the City Council to prove any millage above 4.731 is needed,” Bodker said. “I don’t believe people would say, ‘I don’t believe in taxes and I’m voting it down.’ “
The cities are studying the possibility of going to the bond market by 2010, assuming money is available. With the credit crunch, it could be tough going: The New York and New Jersey Port Authority, rated at the highest credit level, went to the bond market to borrow $300 million recently and got no takers.
With property tax rates limited, new cities are more dependent on sales tax revenues than older cities. In Johns Creek, sales tax proceeds make up about a third of its general fund revenue. Sales tax income is currently flat because of a slowdown in consumer spending, and the future looks uncertain.
“Everything you read, it sounds bleak,” Vavra said. “I projected a 9 percent decrease in sales tax revenues in 2009. That’s a lot.”
Property valuations are no cure
The millage cap’s impact wouldn’t hit so hard if property values were expected to keep rising like they were a few years ago. Even with the same tax rate, the rising value of property would put more money in city coffers. But with values flat or on the decline, there’s little prospect of more revenue.
“There are pockets in north Fulton where we’ll see a downturn of 4 to 5 percent,” said Burt Manning, chief property assessor for Fulton County. “We do expect to see a general flattening in the commercial values in north Fulton.”
Adding to the anxiety is a proposal the 2009 General Assembly is expected to consider that would cap property assessment increases at 3 percent. It’s meant as relief for taxpayers, but Kachmar said Johns Creek might have a hard time surviving if the bill passes.
“With millage and assessment caps in place, your ability to generate any new revenue is extremely limited,” Kachmar said. “There would be no money to pay for salary increases; parks improvements come to a screeching halt. You’d have to do triage. If the cost of gas goes up, you don’t buy as much gas. What do you do then? You say, ‘We’ll only patrol a little bit?’ It would have a very deleterious effect.”
Other revenue also iffy
Cities also draw income from licenses, permits, fees, investment income, and assorted odds and ends. There’s unlikely to be good news there, either.
Income from permits is down because people aren’t building, companies are going bankrupt or not seeking business licenses. Rapson said he slashed Sandy Springs’ projected revenue from permits and fees by 21 percent.
In Johns Creek, revenue from building permits has fallen off 50 percent from what was expected — since August.
With the nation in recession, federal and state governments are cutting back on grants. And even if grants are available, cities have to weigh whether they can afford the 20 percent local match that’s typically required and whether they can afford to operate the program the grant might establish. These days, the answer is often no.
“We’ve given money back to the federal government,” Rapson said. “There were too many strings attached.”
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
December 22, 2008
Milton residents are urged to recycle their Christmas trees through a program brought to the city by the Milton Grows Green (MGG) committee."Bring One for the Chipper" is a statewide program sponsored by the Georgia Forestry Commission. This program has existed across Georgia for several years, but is being brought to Milton for the first time by MGG with the generous support of Freeman's Tree Care. The mulch will be used in public beautification projects, helping to reduce costs for the city.Recycling will be available Saturday, Jan. 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Birmingham Fire Station, located at 750 Hickory Flat Road. All trees should be carefully checked to be sure that lights, ornaments, etc., have been removed. Seedlings, including dogwood, green ash and red cedar, will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last.Volunteers aged 12 to 96 are needed to help unload trees - no machinery contact involved. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer, or to request more information.
December 23, 2008 ALPHARETTA -
A 17-year Milton High School teacher and popular coach is recovering from injuries sustained in a head-on collision on Cogburn Road Dec. 12.Tim Chastain, a 50-year-old Dawsonville resident who has taught health and physical education courses while coaching baseball and football at Milton since 1991, is in North Fulton Hospital suffering from a severely broken leg, dislocated foot, broken pelvis and a ruptured spleen. He received the injuries after his 2003 Toyota Tacoma drifted across the center lane and hit a 2007 Chevrolet Avalanche head on just before 3:45 p.m. near North Park."I'll be OK. It's just going to take a while to rehab," said Chastain. "It's going to be a slow process."
The other driver was not injured, said investigators.Principal Ron Tesch said the school has been in regular contact with Chastain's family and is monitoring his recovery."He has been a good teacher who is respected by his students and staff," said Tesch. "He is in our thoughts and prayers."
The long time coach, who took a break from football this year, said he appreciated the sentiment."I need all the prayers I can get right now," he said.
Monday, December 22, 2008
MILTON, Ga., Dec. 22, 2008 - The City of Milton Fire Department would like to wish you a festive and safe Holiday Season. As you celebrate with family and friends please be mindful of holiday light, candle, and decoration safety. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, holiday fires kill hundreds of people, injure thousands more and cause millions of dollars in property damage each year.
For more information call the Milton Public Safety Department at 678-242-2570 or visit the U.S. Fire Administration Web site.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In one of the first projects by the city-sponsored Bell Memorial Parkenvironmental group Milton Grows Green, signs and barrels will be placed for recycling at various locations at Bell Memorial Park.
Milton Grows Green, a brainchild of Council member Julie Zahner Bailey, was established last month to promote environmentally sound practices and to advise the city on green issues.
Joined by Community Waste Services, a trash hauler, Milton Grows Green will provide the containers and recycling pickup for free. Bell Memorial Park is the city’s busiest park.
Those interested in the committee’s activities or in environmental issues is encouraged to contact the organization at email@example.com.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
December 16, 2008MILTON - Milton police arrested a 38-year-old Twinrose Way mother Dec. 3 after her young son was found with no pants, shoes or jacket in the SuperTarget on Ga. 9.The boy said he'd ran away from home because his mother had allegedly beaten him with a telephone cord after discovering he'd been burning things again.
According to the incident report, the boy had tried to hide burnt pencils and napkins from his mother by taking them out with the trash. He admitted to police he "likes to burn things."His mother discovered the items and allegedly began beating him with nearly two feet of telephone cord while he was backed into a corner.The boy ran off when he had the chance, he said. He later told police his mother locked the door behind him and told him to stay outside.
The cold child ran into the SuperTarget because it was the first business he'd found that was open, he said.When questioned, the mother allegedly admitted to "spanking him, but not with her hand." She said the boy has a problem with fire and had burnt hamburgers so bad the fire department had to be called.The woman was largely uncooperative during the investigation, said officers, and was charged with second degree cruelty to children.The boy, who police said had marks in the shape of looped telephone cord, was taken to Hughes Spalding Childrens Hospital and turned over to DFACS staff. Officers said the boy's aunt had earlier refused custody, and he has no other relatives in Georgia.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
DATE: Sunday, December 14, 2008.
TIME: Approx 5:15pm.
OFFENDING VEHICLE: Late Model White Town and Country Chrysler Van / Tag #BQ57E8.
REPORT: A white Chrysler Town and Country Van passed a commuter at a high rate of speed going south on Bethany Road between Mayfield and Providence Roads. The vehicle passed on a double yellow line which means no passing in residential node. This situation has been reported to the City of Milton.
Dear Milton Neighbor,
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as your District 5 City of Milton Council Representative. One thing that I am reminded of each Holiday Season is the freedoms we enjoy living in America . We are blessed to have the opportunity to choose to celebrate our faith in different ways. As you celebrate in your way this season, I wish you the very best of Hope, Peace Joy and Love.
Monday, December 15, the City of Milton will host the final Council Meeting for 2008. It is a good time to reflect on all the successes this year.
In a few weeks, you should receive a City of Milton Annual Report. You can read about some of the tremendous accomplishments and enjoy some nice photos and a 2009 calendar. I appreciate our city management, Mayor Lockwood and my fellow council members. Together we have made our citizens proud.
I am most proud of the unparalleled citizen involvement in our community. We host more than 20 distinct citizen committees that are ensuring a balanced voice in our diverse city. I am proud of the Milton Disability Awareness Committee formed in 2007. This group, chaired by Laura Barham and Ann Coggins continues to help and support our city staff in ensuring accessibility and inclusion for all people. The city is also honored to have Marie Latta consulting with our team as we develop new and improved infrastructure throughout the city. You can read about Ms. Latta on the city website.
My commitment to maintaining our unique quality of life has never been more evident than with the citizen committees formed in 2008. Community involvement is the driving force in a strong city. The committee that best exemplifies my desire for a distinctive community that embraces, preserves and enhances its rural character is the Highway 9 Design Board. This committee along with city staff will embark on a Livable Centers Initiative developing a full master plan, resulting in not only a vision but also implementation strategies such as recommended amendments to the overlay, design guidelines, and identify transportation improvement projects. I am proud to sponsor this committee. My vision remains steady for 2009; appropriate development in our community, keeping our citizens safe, controlling traffic and developing our parks.
There are several groups I would like to thank for their hard work this year including our boards and the Comprehensive Plan Committee (CPAC). These volunteer citizens have worked tirelessly all year so that the future of Milton will depict the vision.
I am proud to support these committees and look forward to working with citizens and watching our vision develop in 2009.
May you be blessed with a safe and Happy New Year.
For additional information and updates, visit the City of Milton website.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead
December 15 City Council Agenda
City Council Agenda
City Council Meetings are held at City Hall, 13000 Deerfield Parkway, Milton, Georgia 30004.
Meeting Calendar of the City Boards and Commissions
Monday, December 15, 2008 Council Meeting Agenda 6:00 PM
INVOCATION - Tass Welch, Community Minister, Community of Christ Church
1) CALL TO ORDER
2) ROLL CALL
3) PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE (Led by the Mayor) (Agenda Item No. 08-744)
4) APPROVAL OF MEETING AGENDA (Add or remove items from the agenda)
5) PUBLIC COMMENT
6) CONSENT AGENDA
(Agenda Item No. 08-745) 1. Approval of the December 1, 2008 Regular Meeting Minutes. (Jeanette Marchiafava, City Clerk and Clerk of the Court) (Agenda Item No. 08-746) 2. Approval of the following task orders:
November 19, 2008 - Task Order 09-SSI-01 from Street Smarts, Inc. for traffic calming services for the City of Milton with a total cost of $15,162.27; and
November 7, 2008 - Task Order 09-KHA-01 from Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for Phase 1 Crabapple Crossroads Southeast Quadrant Study with a total cost of $17,635.00; and
November 25, 2008 - Revised Task Order 09-KHA-01 from Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for Revised Phase 1 Crabapple Crossroads Southeast Quadrant Study with a total cost of $21,783.00
(Dan Drake, Public Works Director)
(Agenda Item No. 08-747) 3. Approval for Street light acceptance agreement with Crabapple Crossing Subdivision. (Dan Drake, Public Works Director)
7) REPORTS AND PRESENTATIONS
8) FIRST PRESENTATION
9) PUBLIC HEARING ALCOHOL BEVERAGE LICENSE
APPLICATION (Agenda Item No. 08-748) 1. Approval of Alcohol Beverage License Application for Wu & Huang Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Ru San's Milton located at 13085 Alpharetta Highway 9N, Unit #440, Milton, Georgia. The applicant is Kent Wu for Consumption on the Premises - Wine and Malt Beverage. (Presented by Stacey Inglis, Finance Manager) END OF PUBLIC HEARING
10) ZONING AGENDA (Agenda Item No. 08-734) 1. ZM08-08/VC0-07 - South side of Webb Road, To modify condition 2a. and a 2 part concurrent variance to 1) To reduce the side yard setback from 20 feet to 10 feet along the east and west property lines; 2) To reduce the minimum rear yard setback from 25 feet to 10 feet along the south property line. (Presented by Alice Wakefield, Community Development Director) (Agenda Item No. 08-735) 2. RZ08-10, 622 N. Main Street by Larry Singleton, ADT Real Estate, LLC, To rezone from C-2 (Commercial) to C-1 (Community Business) to develop a 28,260 square foot retail home fashion center at a density of 12,504.42 square feet per acre on 2.26 acres. (Presented by Alice Wakefield, Community Development Director)
11) UNFINISHED BUSINESS (none)
12) NEW BUSINESS (Agenda Item No. 08-749)
1. Approval of a Resolution Amending Resolution No. 08-12-54, A Resolution to Create the Milton Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and to develop the Milton Parks and Recreation Ordinance. (Presented by Brad Chambers, Parks and Recreation Representative) (Agenda Item No. 08-750)
2. Approval of a Resolution Amending Resolution No. 08-12-55, A Resolution to Create a Committee to Serve as the Highway 9 Design Guideline Committee for Potential Revision to the Highway 9 Overlay District of the City of Milton Zoning Ordinance. (Presented by Alice Wakefield, Community Development Director) (Agenda Item No. 08-751)
3. Approval of a Resolution Amending Resolution No. 08-12-56, A Resolution to Create a Committee to Serve as the Historic Preservation Committee for Development of a Historic Preservation Ordinance for the City of Milton. (Presented by Alice Wakefield, Community Development Director) (Agenda Item No. 08- 752)
4. Approval of a Resolution Amending Resolution No. 08-04-32, A Resolution Appointing Members to the City of Milton Bike and Pedestrian Path Committee. (Presented by Alan Tart, Councilmember) (Agenda Item No. 08- 753)
5. Approval of a Resolution to Create a Stakeholder Advisory Committee for City of Milton Transportation Plan. (Presented by Dan Drake, Public Works Director) (Agenda Item No. 08- 754)
6. Approval of a Resolution to Create a Citizen Advisory Committee for City of Milton Concept Plans for the Intersections of Birmingham at Providence and Arnold Mill at New Providence. (Presented by Dan Drake, Public Works Director) (Agenda Item No. 08-755)
7. Approval of task orders for concept studies of Birmingham at Providence intersection for $116,434.06 and Arnold Mill at New Providence intersection $70,496.70 with Street Smarts, Inc. (Presented by Dan Drake, Public Works Director) (Agenda Item No. 08- 756)
8. Approval of a Resolution Requesting the Transmittal of the draft City of Milton 20082028 Comprehensive Plan Partial Update to the Atlanta Regional Commission and the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs. (Presented by Alice Wakefield, Community Development Director) (Agenda Item No. 08- 757)
9. Approval of a Resolution to Adopt the 2009 Zoning and Use Permit, Zoning Modification, Board of Zoning Appeals and the City of Milton Design Review Board Schedules. (Presented by Alice Wakefield, Community Development Director)
13) MAYOR AND COUNCIL REPORTS
14) STAFF REPORTS 1) Discussion of the right-of-way privatization policy. (Presented by Dan Drake, Public Works Director)
15) EXECUTIVE SESSION (if needed) (Agenda Item No. 08-758)
Committee and Board Nominations
Council members will be nominating committee members this month.
Tina D'Aversa's nominees to date
1) Parks and Recreation Committee -
District 5 Nominee: Tom Mulroy
2) Highway 9 Design Guidelines Committee
District 5 Business Rep Nominee: Adam Orkin
District 5 Citizen Nominee: Roger Festa
3) Historic Preservation Committee.At Large Nominee: JT Adams
District 5 Nominee: Travis Allen
4) Transportation Committee.
District 5 Citizen Nominee: Vic Jones
5) Transportation Intersection Committee
At Large Nominee: Marty Littleton
These committees will begin working if they have not already in early January 2009. The Parks and Recreation Committee is already developing a list of priority review items for early 2009. Public Works Director, Dan Drake and P&R Consultant, Brad Chambers will be the staff liaisons.
Community Development Manager, Alice Wakefield will be working with the Highway 9 Review Board very soon to review the LCI process and to begin setting discussion priorities. We encourage citizens to be involved and attend these meetings. Meetings will be listed on the city website.
Please email the city council member serving your district if you are interested in participating on one of these boards or committees. City Council contact information.
City Council Meeting agendas are posted seven days prior to a meeting.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Due to the annoucement that the Milton Round Up has moved to the public schools in Crabapple next fall, we have a new Accessmilton.com poll up. This month's question ask:
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The Georgia Cemetery Board has approved an application for a green cemetery in Milton.
The board on Tuesday signed off on a plan by Milton resident Jim Bell, who sought state approval to use 17 acres of pasture as a green burial ground. In a green cemetery, people are interred in a shroud or a biodegradable coffin without embalming, vaults or even tombstones. Graves are marked by a GPS system or flat markers.To motorists passing by, the cemetery would look like an open field.
“We’ve already had a good bit of interest,” Bell said. “It’s less expensive, environmentally sound, and we’ll give part of the proceeds to give to the city to buy more green space.”
Bell said he wanted to find a way to keep the land from being developed.
Traditional burials average $7,500, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. A green burial would cost up to $4,000.
Embalming is not required by law except in some circumstances, such as transporting a body by airline, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
Bell wrote in an email that he plans to open cthe emetery in January.
December 09, 2008 MILTON - City Council established a Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, a Ga. 9 Design Guideline Committee and a Historic Preservation Committee at its meeting Dec. 1.• The Parks and Recreation Advisory board will be staffed by seven volunteers tasked with developing a parks and recreation ordinance. Councilwoman Karen Thurman nominated Mark Reed, Councilman Bill Lusk nominated Lauren Jackson, Councilwoman Tina D'Aversa nominated Tom Mulroy and Councilman Alan Tart nominated Sandy Shelley.• The Ga. 9 Design Guideline Committee will be staffed by 14 volunteers, representing an equal mix of business and homeowners in the Ga. 9 area. They will weigh potential revisions to the Ga. 9 Overlay District, and if revisions are made, could eventually be pared down to a seven-member recommending body for review of cases in the area. Mayor Joe Lockwood nominated Dennis Potts, Thurman nominated former Councilman Rick Mohrig, Lusk nominated Rodney Reese, D'Aversa nominated Adam Orkin and Tart nominated Brenda Hemphill.• The Historic Preservation Committee will be staffed with 14 volunteers tasked with creating a Historic Preservation Ordinance. Thurman nominated Gordon Hunter, Lusk nominated Norman Broadwell and, as an "assistant," local historian Billy Bates. D'Aversa nominated Travis Allen and J.T. Adams.The committees still need a number of volunteers. Interested parties should contact volunteer coordinator Linda Blow at 678-242-2489.In other news, council:• Approved unanimously a little more than $449,000 task order with Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. for Milton's Transportation Master Plan. Due to an 80-20 funding match, Milton will pay just shy of $90,000 for the work, which Public Works Director Dan Drake said will take 18 months.• Approved unanimously a modification to the Fulton County Service Delivery Strategy Agreement to allow participation by the South Fulton Municipal Regional Water and Sewer Authority. City Attorney Ken Jarrard said the modification does not involve Milton (it affects Union City, Fairburn and Palmetto), but due to its contract the county must have all cities in Fulton who receive county water sign off on the move.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Milton officials are hoping to pull a rabbit out of a hat and recover $863,000 in lost insurance premium taxes.
The city has an “error and omissions” clause in its insurance policy with the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Association that officials think might cover the lost money.
The city lost its chance to collect $863,000 in its first days of cityhood in 2007. It missed a deadline to alert the state that it intended to collect its share of taxes on insurance premiums sold in Georgia. The city rectified the oversight.
Officials did explore legislative solutions but were told the law was clear about having to meet the deadline.
So stop by and look around; from what I hear, they have some great gifts!
Friday, December 05, 2008
December 02, 2008 MILTON - State Rep. Jan Jones probably doesn't talk about the weather without mentioning the need for a new Milton County, but she does not see her elevation to the Republican State House whip as a bully pulpit to that end.But that is because she sees the course for a new county as sailing fairly straight as it is. Will being the whip help?"Well, itcertainly won'thurt," Jones said. "We already have a very strong North Fulton team, as evidenced by the passage of the three cities [Sandy Springs, Milton, Johns Creek], which we got passed in pretty much record time."
Jones saw getting legislation for those cities as the first step before going on for a new county. That came from the North Fulton legislative team's influence as a whole, she said.In addition to her new role, state Sen. Dan Moody is the Senate caucus chairman, state Rep. Wendell Willard is chairman of the House Judiciary and state Rep. Mark Burkhalter is House chairman pro tem.
"As each of us takes on more roles, such as my appointment as majority whip, it helps," Jones said. "I think we are all unified in the conviction that it is time for a vote now. We are now ready to take that constitutional amendment forward."
The amendment would allow any former existing county that had since merged with another county to reconstitute itself. The state Constitution limits the number of Georgia counties to 159. The only possible county that could be affected is Fulton, which merged with Milton County in the north and Campbell County in the south in 1932 as an economic bailout of the two faltering counties during the Great Depression.
A feasibility study commissioned by the Legislature should be out next month, Jones said."I think the effect of the study will be to let the legislators and the people of Georgia see it is a very reasonable desire and request to let North Fulton choose its own county government. I think it will show the reconstituted Fulton and Milton counties will have the same revenues as they do now on a per capita basis," she said. Bonded indebtedness and SPLOST commitments would be continued to pay out as before. That would mean the libraries commissioned in the most recent bond referendum would be built and paid for in the prescribed manner by both counties.
"It will take a few years to get this all in place. There would be a transition period," she said.As whip, it will be Jones' job to assist the majority leader and keep members advised about key floor and committee votes. It will be her job to count noses to be sure legislation the party supports will get the support it needs to pass. In short, she will manage the legislative agenda of the party."Being the whip, I will be monitoring and influencing the flow of information," she said. "I view it as information central. I will be supplying information and perspective on the issues to the Republican Caucus."
Every piece of legislation that makes it to the floor of the House goes through the whip's office, which then issues a daily report. Around 10 deputy whips will assist Jones in the process."During the session, it will be a working job. I said I wanted the job to do something in the party - not to be something - and I think I got that."
December 02, 2008 MILTON - Milton is holding its second annual holiday event, this year named Christmas at Crabapple. Set for Dec. 6 from 5-8 p.m. in downtown Crabapple, the evening's festivities include time with Santa Claus, horse-drawn carriage rides and choir concerts.According to Linda Blow, volunteer coordinator with Milton, each participating Crabapple merchant will put white lights on the outside of their businesses. Grab a card at the Christmas tree at the corner of Mayfield and Mid-Broadwell roads, visit each of the retailers, collect all the stamps and return the card for a chance to win a basket full of goodies donated by each business.A lighted horse and carriage at five points around Crabapple will mark the perimeter of the event. After the holidays, the donated tree will either be planted at a local fire station or left in Crabapple.The Christmas in Crabapple logo was designed by Bob Berry of Berry Designs in Crabapple.
December 02, 2008 MILTON – It is not easy finding a place where the children of Spectrum, a nonprofit support group for Gwinnett, North Fulton and Forsyth children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), can go as a group. But one place that opened its arms wide was Hunter's Christmas tree farm operated by Gordon and Brooke Hunter on Wood Road in Milton.
"We are thrilled to find a place to come where the kids can be themselves," said Spectrum member and parent Monique Bernstein. More than 60 families came for the hayrides around the tree farm and a chance to climb on a tractor, make ornaments and just have a good time."We were glad to open up a little early to give these kids a good time," said Brooke Hunter. "It is a great way to give something back to the community."For information about the tree farm to to www.hunterschristmastreefarm.com.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
November 25, 2008 MILTON - City Council apparently will take personal field trips to the Bethany Creek subdivision to determine if changing the city's noise ordinance will do anything to quell the battle that's been brewing over music bleeding from Montana's Bar and Grill into homes in the area.Montana's has been cited just once for violating Milton's nighttime 60 decibel cap.
Residents in Bethany Creek, which backs up to the popular restaurant, routinely call police to complain about the noise.To try and fix the problem, Public Safety Director Chris Lagerbloom and City Attorney Ken Jarrard proposed in October lowering the allowable night time decibels from 60 to 55, which Lagerbloom said would match several local municipalities' laws.
Montana's owner Cary Eubanks said publicly he believes changing the ordinance constitutes his business being "railroaded."At its meeting Nov. 17, City Council heard from Eubanks, Bethany Creek residents and a number of business owners and homeowners from all over Milton, each with an opinion on changing the city's standing noise ordinance by five decibels.
"We have done everything possible, and we have been within the ordinance," said Eubanks. "I just don't know what else to do. I just don't think it's fair."He implored council to visit Montana's and listen for themselves before voting on a law change that could potentially put him and his 25 employees out of business.
Board of Zoning Appeals chairwoman Sandy Jones — speaking simply as a citizen — is a Bethany Creek resident. She said there wasn't a problem in the area until Montana's opened its former greenhouse venue. Jones said the change to the law doesn't keep Montana's from playing live music, it simply "alleviates the intrusion our families experience." She also invited council to her living room so they could feel the vibrations at 11 p.m.
Mayor Joe Lockwood was skeptical a five decibel change could be decided without real world experience."As I listen through, I'm not really sure what five decibels does, and as I listen to residents, I hear about vibrations. I wonder if that's just the type of tone," said Lockwood.
"Before we make a decision that affects our whole city, I want to see if it makes any difference or not."
Lockwood asked if council would defer the decision, and Councilwoman Karen Thurman put forth the motion to postpone the decision until Dec. 15."I would like to see for myself what it is like from the property line," she said. "I value my sleep tremendously, and I'm sure other people do, too."Councilman Bill Lusk agreed."I don't see how we could sit up here and objectively evaluate a five decibel differential out there," he said.The vote to defer the decision was unanimous.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Sometimes it seems that half the city of Milton is involved in running the city.
On Monday, Milton City Council set up three new advisory committees. Two will have 14 members; the other will have seven members.
“We have a population that’s proud of where they live, who are invested in the community,” said Mayor Joe Lockwood. “I don’t think there will be any trouble filling these committees.”
One of the new panels, the Historic Preservation Committee, will help draft an ordinance to protect old buildings and historic sites in the city of about 20,000 residents.
Another, the Ga. 9 Guideline Committee, has the more delicate task of coming up with design standards for the city’s main business corridor. The council decided to expand that committee from seven to 14 members so that each council member could appoint a homeowner and a business owner.
They also set up a Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to recommend improvements to parks and come up with a game plan for improving recreation citywide.
People wanting to volunteer should call Linda Blow at 678-242-2489.
A dog was found by the Nadler's near the intersection of Freemanville and Redd Road. ?They took him to the vet and sadly there is no microchip. As you can tell from his photo, this sweet guy has been looking for food for some time.
There was another dog seen lost near the same spot but has not been saved from harm yet. ?We are not sure if these two are related. ?
Do you know anything about this dog? ?Could it belong to one of your neighbors? ?Could one of you have it in your heart to adopt him and give him a chance in a happy home?
Please contact Todd Nadler at 770.619.0660 or Patti Silva at 678.234.9141.
Please make sure to pass this email to all of your contacts in our area.
Monday, December 01, 2008
New Foundation comes to Milton
Feed the Firefighters Foundation has made its debut in Milton. The foundation's purpose is to support firefighters and other emergency personnel who serve the community by supplying food and other nourishment during emergencies of extended duration and to increase public awareness of the contributions firefighters make to the community.
ZPIZZA in Alpharetta is the third restaurant to become a member of this organization and the first to participate in Georgia. As a member of FTF, ZPIZZA will supply local firefighters and other first-responders in Milton and Alpharetta with food at no cost in emergency situations as well as a daily discount at the restaurant. FTF is a non-profit organization located in Raleigh, NC that was founded in 1999 to provide food and other nourishment to firefighters and other first-responders in emergency situations.
To learn more please visit the Feed the Firefighters site.
Earlier this year, The City of Milton passed an ordinance requiring all gated properties, residential and business, to have a key lock box - known as a Knox Box - installed on the entrance side of each gate for emergency access by public safety personnel. Deadline for compliance is March 31, 2009.
Questions? Contact the Public Safety Department, 678-242-2500.
In an ongoing effort to support the Arts, the City of Milton will host its second art show at City Hall. More than 40 works by 14 members of the Alpha Arts Guild will be on display including landscape paintings, portraiture, photography, abstracts, collages, stained glass, fabric art and quilts.
The show opens Monday, Dec. 1 and runs through the end of the year. The pieces are displayed at each main entrance and in Council Chambers.
A reception for the artists will be held on Monday, Dec. 1 at 5 pm in Council Chambers.
To learn more about the Alpha Arts Guild, please visit the Alpha Arts Guild Web site.
There will be three phases of registration:
- Phase one begins Monday, Dec. 1 for all City of Milton residents.
- Phase two begins Monday, Dec. 15 for all Hopewell Veteran Players (regardless of residency).
- Phase three, open registration, begins Monday, Dec. 29.
Registration ends Sunday, Jan. 11 and a $25 late fee will be charged for any registrations after this date. Registration fees will be published on the HYA Web site prior to the start of registration.
PLEASE NOTE: Based on the success and growth of the baseball program HYA expects most age groups to sell out. Skill assessment will be held on Saturday, Jan. 24. Practices start on Saturday, Feb. 7 and Opening Day is Saturday, March 7. The Spring season ends Wednesday, May 20. For more information visit the HYA Web site. Play Ball!
Santa will be on hand - complete with a live reindeer - for children to share their secret wishes and get their picture taken. Everyone can enjoy hot chocolate, cider and S'mores while listening to carols sung by the Milton High School choir. Admission is free, and children will get a special gift from Santa.
It is easy to forget that everyone in the world is not as fortunate as us. Not everyone can afford to buy gifts for their loved ones. Some people cannot even afford to put food on their tables. The good news is there are countless ways to help people in need this winter. Please keep in mind that it doesn't necessarily cost anything to lend a hand. Volunteering your time can be appreciated just as much, if not more, than volunteering your money.
This winter you could serveat an Atlanta soup kitchen or help build a home for Habitat for Humanity. You could help deliver food for Meals on Wheels or donate gently used coats and toys to the Salvation Ary or the Kidney Association. You could even visit elderly people in nursing homes or children in local orphanages. And of course, if you don't mind spending some money, you can always donate new toys to Toys for Tots or a meal for someone who might otherwise go without.
Overall, we can make a difference. With over 20,000 residents in Milton we can contribute greatly this holiday season. Imagine what we could accomplish if we all did something for our community or neighboring communities. We can make this winter a little bit better for those who need help the most. And you'll benefit too. As Maya Angelou said, " I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. "
Best wishes to you and your family this Holiday Season.