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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Milton Q & A

Courtesy Beacon Media

Milton District 1

Karen Thurman

Future revenue projections show that there may not be sufficient funds for the City of Milton to pay for improvements such as additional parks. What is your specific solution to this?

I believe we must aggressively pursue government and private grant opportunities. I believe we must also explore partnering with private businesses and with individuals to begin to develop our park facilities. We have many people in the city that are willing to donate their time and resources and we need to find a way to take advantage of this opportunity.

If revenues for the city of Milton continue to decline, as a contingency do you favor increasing the mill rate, expanding the commercial tax base or reducing operating expenditures?

I do not favor increasing the millage rate. I also do not favor increasing the commercial tax base just to bring in additional revenue. We have very few areas in Milton where commercial development is appropriate. I do support commercial development in those areas where it is determined to be appropriate based on the Comprehensive Plan. We must also continue working to insure that we are providing services in the most cost efficient manner.


Fulton County has established a sewer service delivery area through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). To date, not all potential connections have been implemented. Do you consider future connections in this sewer service as an extension of sewer?

I do not believe that sewer should be extended beyond what was already designated and promised by Fulton County as the area where sewer would be allowed. Sewer is not appropriate for the large majority of acreage in Milton.

In the 2009 legislative session, the North Fulton leadership introduced a state Constitutional Amendment proposal to cap residential and commercial property tax increases to 3 percent annually. It did not pass, but is expected to come up next year. Do you support this initiative?

I do not believe a person should be forced to sell their home because they are unable to pay the property taxes assessed on it. Our residential property taxes are already high and I would strongly support an annual percentage cap for as long as a person held the property as their primary residence. I believe that commercial property should be treated differently. We need to be careful regarding any assessment cap on commercial property. Because the entity owning a piece of commercial property can be sold rather than selling the property itself, we must find a way to insure that the cap is reset upon any transfer. This includes the transfer of the property itself or a change in ownership of the entity owning the property.

The current contract with CH2M Hill to provide outsourced city services has been terminated via letter that will go into effect in the next six months. What is your plan to continue to provide city services going forward?

I believe that we need to explore all options. It may be more cost efficient to subcontract with a third party to provide some services while others should be handled as they typically are in a more traditional government.
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Bernard Wolff

Future revenue projections show that there may not be sufficient funds for the city of Milton to pay for improvements such as additional parks. What is your specific solution to this?

First, I would review and scrutinize the City Budget as it shall be when the CH2M Hill contract has been terminated. The savings to Milton will be very substantial in the short term, and if Milton properly structures its organization to maximize service resources at reasonable cost by using outside contractors, funds will become available for such acquisitions. Secondly, the current economy is a two-sided sword: Milton’s tax revenues are reduced and budgets must be tightened. On the other hand, owners of real estate who would like to sell their properties will be more open to alternative and innovative financing methods. For example, “lease - purchase” arrangements will enable the City to acquire park and rec. property at comparatively low cost, converting them to income sources sufficient to pay lease rental fees. Thirdly, we must be aggressive in defining our Park and Recreation needs for all citizens. I would look for any possible means to return to and increase funds in the Parks and Recreation budget so that we can purchase land while it is relatively cheap. In particular, I would advocate the purchase of land adjoining Bell Memorial Park, and “pocket park” land in selected areas of the city. If no additional funds are available, I would look for private donors and potential sponsors for funding, or donations of land parcels that may be part of larger holdings.

If revenues for the City of Milton continue to decline, as a contingency do you favor increasing the mill rate, expanding the commercial tax base or reducing operating expenditures?

Conduct budget review, prioritizing expenses and services, and reduce expenses accordingly until the budget is balanced. Consider through an economic development council possibilities of filling existing unused commercial space with new businesses that consider the needs of surrounding community. This would contribute business license and sales tax revenue, while increasing commercial real estate and the related tax base at existing millage rates. Resist making new spending commitments in budget unless they are income producing, such as parks & recreation areas.

Fulton County has established a sewer service delivery area through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). To date, not all potential connections have been implemented. Do you consider future connections in this sewer service as an extension of sewer?

Future connections are a defacto extension of sewer. Any such connections should be governed by the development patterns recommended by the Milton CPAC.

In the 2009 legislative session, the North Fulton leadership introduced a state Constitutional Amendment proposal to cap residential and commercial property tax increases to 3 percent annually. It did not pass, but is expected to come up next year. Do you support this initiative?
Yes. Milton’s tax contributions to Fulton County outweigh what Milton receives.


Milton’s portion of the property in Fulton County is comparatively small, thus our citizens taxes would have to increase significantly compared with the remainder of Fulton County in order to make a substantive difference to Milton’s Tax Revenue. This is not fair to the Milton taxpayers. We need to find other means to either increase revenue or decrease expenses.

The current contract with CH2M Hill to provide outsourced city services has been terminated via letter that will go into effect in the next six months. What is your plan to continue to provide city services going forward?

Milton needs to structure its procedures to provide services most efficiently. Hire staff for strategic areas, and consider outsourcing in spot areas where costs would be lower than providing comparable services internally. If Milton hires City Service Managers to contract each outsourced service, if multiple providers are contracted, and the contracts include cost and performance requirements, Milton will enjoy enhanced service at a lower cost.
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Milton District 3

Bill Lusk

Future revenue projections show that there may not be sufficient funds for the City of Milton to pay for improvements such as additional parks. What is your specific solution to this?

As with any budget, we have to establish priorities. In my opinion, Public Safety comes first. Intersection improvements are one of the most important aspects of life safety. With the ever-increasing number of young drivers on our roads it is imperative that we correct our most dangerous intersections first. We can achieve the other features, but it may take longer.

If revenues for the City of Milton continue to decline, as a contingency do you favor increasing the mill rate, expanding the commercial tax base or reducing operating expenditures?

I believe that it may be a combination of expanding the commercial tax base and reducing expenditures. It is a juggling exercise. Increasing the mill rate should be the last resort. It would require the recommendation of Council and the approval of the residents.

Fulton County has established a sewer service delivery area through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). To date, not all potential connections have been implemented. Do you consider future connections in this sewer service as an extension of sewer?

There are two distinct, discrete areas within the Sewer Service Delivery Area (SSDA); the Highway 9 corridor and Crabapple Road corridor. Fulton County has granted sewer service to all of the land within those areas. Milton has no authority to deny any parcel not currently connected to sewer in the SSDA. Any future connections within the SSDA do not constitute further “extension of sewer.”

In the 2009 legislative session, the North Fulton leadership introduced a state Constitutional Amendment proposal to cap residential and commercial property tax increases to 3 percent annually. It did not pass, but is expected to come up next year. Do you support this initiative?

No, I do not. This would usurp cities’ ability to increase property value assessments, thereby minimizing raising revenues to cover essential services.

The current contract with CH2M Hill to provide outsourced city services has been terminated via letter that will go into effect in the next six months. What is your plan to continue to provide city services going forward?

We are currently in a transition mode in departing from that Public/Private contract. The transition may include the two teams working side by side as we come up to full speed. It calls to mind as my Battalion in Vietnam was leaving the country, the incoming relieving Battalion had an advanced party working along with us to make a seamless transition.

Going forward, I envision a hybrid of the current method. I believe that there are certain functions that we need to perform in-house, such as Finance, Human Resources, and Community Development. Departments such as Public Works can be directed in-house, but the actual field work may be outsourced. I liken this to my business as a General Contractor where we perform some functions in-house and subcontract the specialty scopes of work.
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Al Trevillyan

Future revenue projections show that there may not be sufficient funds for the city of Milton to pay for improvements such as additional parks­. What is your specific solution to this?

I believe we need to explore fresh, innovative ways to increase our tax base including the establishment of an Economic Development Commission to proactively seek out quality businesses to come to Milton. These businesses will fill up our vacant storefronts and will enhance the quality of life of our citizens rather than distract from it. Actively involving citizens in this process will ensure that businesses will prosper. I also support the establishment of a Parks and Recreation Commission that will explore alternative sources of revenue for parks and recreation including private-public partnerships. Also, we need to fully explore opportunities for grants with little to no matching funds required.

If revenues for the city of Milton continue to decline, as a contingency do you favor increasing the mill rate, expanding the commercial tax base or reducing operating expenditures?

I fully support a comprehensive, line-by-line review of our budget to remove unnecessary spending. I do not favor increasing the mill rate. I will only support commercial development in appropriate areas of the city. I believe we should tap into alternative sources of revenue by creating an Economic Development Commission to fill our existing empty developments and establishing a Parks and Recreation Commission.

Fulton County has established a sewer service delivery area through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). To date, not all potential connections have been implemented. Do you consider future connections in this sewer service as an extension of sewer?

I do not support extension of sewer service beyond where it is now. My opponent voted to extend sewer in Sept ’08. He believes density can be controlled through zoning, but his support of variances to our zoning ordinance without any demonstrated hardship proves that it only takes a majority vote on council to approve higher density than what is allowed by our zoning ordinance or land use plan.

In the 2009 legislative session, the North Fulton leadership introduced a state Constitutional Amendment proposal to cap residential and commercial property tax increases to 3 percent annually. It did not pass, but is expected to come up next year. Do you support this initiative?

Yes. As long as we are part of Fulton County, we are paying more than our fair share to Fulton County. Milton’s portion of the property tax is relatively small, so a large increase in our property taxes really benefits Fulton County. We need to find other means to either increase revenue or decrease expenses.

The current contract with CH2M Hill to provide outsourced city services has been terminated via letter that will go into effect in the next six months. What is your plan to continue to provide city services going forward?

Milton deserves a city staff who recognizes and appreciates our Vision. We should recruit and train the best staff and consider outsourcing in spot areas where costs would be lower than providing comparable services internally.
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Milton District 5

Tina D’Aversa

Future revenue projections show that there may not be sufficient funds for the City of Milton to pay for improvements such as additional parks. What is your specific solution to this?

The greatest challenge facing our budget is balancing of tax dollars and other funding with providing necessary and desired services for our citizens. Citizens want and deserve parks and high levels of public safety; better and more efficient infrastructure and appropriate economic development. The challenge is that Milton does not have the money to do everything that is desired. Milton has the money to provide necessary services at a higher level than Fulton County provided these services in the past. This was the goal when I was on the steering committee and is still the goal three years later. To increase funding for nonessential services, the city staff must find alternative forms of funding for the desired services. The Parks Authority is one good example of a funding body that can help the city to provide a higher level of parks and programs to the city. A business and community improvement district funded by businesses volunteering to participate is another good source of alternative funding. Grants are perfect for opportunities to increase new infrastructure that is needed in Milton.

Let me be clear, the widely adopted vision for Milton can be maintained and the government will have the money to do so if we manage taxes, balance budgets and we do not spend beyond our means. Finding alternative sources of funding for non necessities is vital for Milton. I have a plan for these alternative sources of funding.

If revenues for the City of Milton continue to decline, as a contingency do you favor increasing the mill rate, expanding the commercial tax base or reducing operating expenditures?

Citizens must approve a tax rate increase and Milton citizens do not want an increase. No, I do not support increasing the Millage Rate. I support reducing operating expenditures especially as we move forward with transition from the outsourced expenditures of CH2MHILL. Expanding our commercial tax base in the commercial areas including Highway 9, Deerfield, Crabapple and Birmingham at the Crossroads is viable. Yes, I support collecting more tax revenue but I do not support increasing the tax rate or Millage. Further, I do not support increasing development or commercial areas when we have not filled the space built out in the established commercial areas. I support helping the developers who have built space in our commercial areas in an effort to attract solid businesses. An economic development or marketing group to promote Milton is a must going forward.

Fulton County has established a sewer service delivery area through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). To date, not all potential connections have been implemented. Do you consider future connections in this sewer service as an extension of sewer?

My voting record is clear. I do not support the further extension of Sewer within the interior of Milton. The vision of Milton will be challenged if the opportunity for higher density levels is opened by an increase in sewerable properties. We have sewer in the appropriate areas of Milton now.

The current contract with CH2M Hill to provide outsourced city services has been terminated via letter that will go into effect in the next six months. What is your plan to continue to provide city services going forward?

The council has worked with the city manager to provide a clear and structured plan of transition through the change from CH2MHILL. I have supported this move from outsourced lump sum contract services since November 2007, when I called for it. We had a great start to cityhood with CH2MHILL’s support. But, it is long overdue for a city the size of Milton to realize that CH2MHILL is not the best approach. I am glad to see the transition begin The plan includes a tiered approach to hiring managers and then staffing all appropriate departments and services over the next six months. Appropriate services will continue to be outsourced. This is a positive move for the city.
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Joe Longoria

Future revenue projections show that there may not be sufficient funds for the city of Milton to pay for improvements such as additional parks. What is your specific solution to this?

The development of our parklands should be a top priority. Few expenditures yield more positive returns to our citizens. While the city has talked a good deal about this issue, we have yet to take any real action. I will promote this agenda as a priority and seek to execute on a plan to develop our park resources for all of Milton. All of Milton should enjoy our park resources. Birmingham Park is a wonderful resource and should become a focal point of our park & recreation system.

If revenues for the city of Milton continue to decline, as a contingency do you favor increasing the mill rate, expanding the commercial tax base or reducing operating expenditures?

Any plan to help manage existing revenue sources must include a review of all operating expenditures. However, this process can only go so far. Raising taxes by increasing the mill rate is out of the question and something I would not consider. Increasing revenue by expanding the commercial tax base should be something that is seriously considered. Milton has unused existing commercial inventory. The city should seek to attract businesses to occupy this vacant space, and add to our commercial revenue stream without developing beyond our existing commercial footprint.

Fulton County has established a sewer service delivery area through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). To date, not all potential connections have been implemented. Do you consider future connections in this sewer service as an extension of sewer?

Milton will never be able to extend the current sewer system, period. Fulton County designed this system with defined limits and capacity. We cannot exceed these limits and should never consider extending the system beyond its stated capacity. However, anyone who has access to this system should be given the option to do so. In addition, Milton must find a way to allow the zoning laws to manage this issue. Relying on sewer/septic availability to control zoning is not a sustainable option.

In the 2009 legislative session, the North Fulton leadership introduced a state Constitutional Amendment proposal to cap residential and commercial property tax increases to 3 percent annually. It did not pass, but is expected to come up next year. Do you support this initiative?

I do not favor increased taxes on our citizens. Any amendment to cap residential or commercial property taxes would only be an amendment to guarantee that the property tax rate will increase each year. We should be looking at ways to fill our existing commercial inventory to increase tax revenue, not raising the taxes for businesses already investing in our city.

The current contract with CH2M Hill to provide outsourced city services has been terminated via letter that will go into effect in the next six months. What is your plan to continue to provide city services going forward?

As a result of this termination, the city will now be responsible for managing a variety of functions and services provided by internal and external resources. This will require a new level of management and oversight skills on the part of the city. It would be advantageous to reassess this decision in light of the variable costs associated with direct staff. I will take a close look at this decision on a function-by-function basis to validate the actual savings when compared to the long term costs of this blended model. In many cases, the long term cost of employees exceeds the cost associated with outsourcing – regardless of short term benefits.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Talk about puking a maggot.