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Clarkston passes approves DDA members, budget and interim chief court clerk

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Clarkston passes approves DDA members, budget and interim chief court clerk

Clarkston City Hall and Police Department. Photo by Dean Hesse

Clarkston, GA — After failing to pass the budget and the resolution to create its own Downtown Development Authority on Dec. 5, the Clarkston city council was able to approve both during its special called meeting on Dec. 19. 

The council adopted the $15,883,249 million budget for the 2024 fiscal year after removing and adding a few positions, which did not affect the total budget amount. The Community Action budget for the Early Learning Taskforce was increased to $10,000 and to maintain the budget, the Business and Economic Development programs were reduced by $5,000, Interim City Manager Tammi Saddler Jones said.

The council then turned to the approval of a new DDA. The council members approved the following DDA members:

— Mayor Beverly Burks appointed for a two-year term

— Krista Durant, a city resident, appointed for a two-year term

— John Gagne, a Dekalb County resident and owner of Brockett Pub House and Grill, appointed for a four-year term

— Adria Marshall, a Dekalb County resident and CEO of Ecoslay, appointed for a four-year term

— Johnny Garcia, a DeKalb County resident and founder of Injury 2 Wellness, appointed for a six-year term

— Rezwan Ahmad, a commercial property owner, appointed for a six-year term

— Akber Lassi, owner of M Mart International Grocery, appointed for a six-year term

In addition to approving the DDA members, the council had to approve the general boundaries of the DDA. There was confusion and concerns about the boundaries in the latest map and the reasoning behind it.  

“I will vote to approve this map, but I think we need to have a better map that is intuitive,” Councilmember Susan Hood said.

After asking questions of Planning and Economic Development Manager, Lisa Cameron, not every member was satisfied with the existing map, but city attorney Stephen Quinn said that the boundaries could be amended by the council in the future. 

“The city council can amend the map at any time [and amend] it at every meeting if you want to,” Quinn said. “So I would think that if you have a map that you mostly feel good about and it includes what are clearly the core commercial areas the DDA will work with, that you could move forward with that.”

The map was not attached to the agenda, but Decaturish requested a copy and will update this story when the city provides it.

The DDA’s effective date will be January 1, 2024. 

With these two major deadlines out of the way, the council approved the rest of the agenda items for the meeting. This includes:

— An agreement with the LBJ Law Group LLC for LaDawn Blackett-Jones to serve as Interim Chief Court Clerk, for $7,000 a month. Jones said Blackett-Jones’ contract would end in May 2024 or sooner. Jones said she would rely on Blackett-Jones to run the court while also helping to find a permanent candidate. Blackett-Jones is an attorney and previously a member of the Georgia House representing District 62. Blackett-Jones said she helped charter the city of South Fulton and helped build the city’s courts.

— The purchase of new laptop mounts in police patrol vehicles to secure new laptops, for $17,600. The laptop mounts would be ordered from VC3, which the city has an existing contract with.

— The purchase of “network switches and firewalls for the city’s computer network.” This would cost $21,284.20 and Jones said this upgrade was the result of a cybersecurity audit that was conducted last December. 

— A resolution approving the agreement with Integrated Science & Engineering Inc. from 2023 to 2024, ArcGIS Hosting and Management. This would be for the city’s annual stormwater system inspection and amounts to a contract renewal. ArcGIS maintains the infrastructure for stormwater on the city’s system. The fee for the renewal would be $16,750.

— A resolution approving the annual renewal of the Workers Compensation Insurance Self-Insurance Fund through Georgia Municipal Association for 2024, with an estimated premium of $94,733. This is a reduction from 2023’s premium which was $98,419. 

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