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Stone Mountain City Council postpones adding money to landscaping account

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Stone Mountain City Council postpones adding money to landscaping account

City of Stone Mountain seal on the historic railroad depot. Photo by Dean Hesse.

By Jaedon Mason, contributor 

Stone Mountain, GA – The Stone Mountain City Council met on Sept. 5 and voted to postpone approval of a budget amendment moving $10,000 within the general fund from the cemetery lawn care account to the buildings and grounds landscaping account.

These funds, once moved, would have been used to contract out care of Main Street, from city hall to James B Rivers Memorial Drive. The process of receiving bids is ongoing, so how much of this $10,000 will ultimately end up being spent is unknown at this time.

This announcement comes after multiple weeks of back and forth between the city and Jelani and Shani Linder on behalf of Village Forward Inc. – a non-profit founded by the Linders focused on the development of Stone Mountain Village Community – about a proposal to take care of a similar area at no cost to the city. The proposal ultimately was rejected in a tie-breaker vote by the mayor.

City Manager Darnetta Tyus stated that the specific goal of transferring the funds was to designate more resources to the maintenance and upkeep of Main Street, the consistent poor state of which has been front and center since Village Forward Inc. brought the issue to public attention earlier in the summer.

Tyus said that these funds are necessary to take care of Stone Mountain’s downtown, “absent other options”.

“We sincerely appreciate the effort from everyone who volunteers to put stuff down, but afterward maintenance becomes important,” Tyus said.

In her report, the city manager also announced the hiring of a stormwater and infrastructure manager, as well as two more laborers for public works.

Several questions were asked about why this budget amendment was needed, given the increased staff.

“We want to do a better job of taking care of everything,” Tyus said. “Maybe [the new staff] should be assigned to Main Street, or maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe they should be assisting to do a better job with the parks. Maybe they should assist to do a better job with the cemetery. We want to be doing a better job citywide with everything citywide.”

Since public works takes care of the cemetery, the “cemetery lawn account” and the “building and grounds landscaping” account are under the same bigger public works budgetary umbrella, which can be altered by the city manager without express approval from the council. Tyus clarified the purpose of the city proposing the amendment was out of a desire for transparency.

The vote was split with Councilmembers Gina Stroud-Cox, Chakira Johnson and Clint Monroe voting against the motion to postpone and Councilmembers Theresa Crowe, Gill Freeman Shawnette Bryant and Mayor Beverly Jones voting for the postponement.

In other news:

– Mayor Beverly Jones was invited to the Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light World 9th Anniversary Peace Summit. HWPL is an international non-governmental organization focused on spreading world peace through legislation and education. The summit will take place in Seoul, South Korea, and Stone Mountain was selected as an area of opportunity given the complex legacy of the city.

The mayor originally received a grant to be able to attend, but the funds won’t be available in time, so representatives of the organization asked the city to pay for transportation there and back (roughly $3,000) with all other costs being covered by HWPL. However, the council didn’t approve the expenditure, with only Councilmember GIl Freeman voting in favor.

– The city council decided how to allocate $7.7 million in SPLOST II funds. The council allocated $3 million to roads,  $3 million to surface water drainage and stormwater maintenance, and $1 million to recreational facilities, including but not limited to trails and parks. There will also be an additional $2 million awarded to small cities, which will be used for a stormwater assessment and implementation of solutions based on its findings.

– Temporary speed bumps will be installed on Rockborough Drive on Sept. 28

– There will be a pothole blitz the week of Sept. 11. Tyus said that the city will implement a slightly different method of pothole repair this time. This new method is an attempt to increase the longevity of the repairs, and Tyus asks for the city’s patience as they continue to improve.

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