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Clarkston swears in city council and re-evaluates contracts

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Clarkston swears in city council and re-evaluates contracts

Clarkston City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Clarkston, GA — The city of Clarkston held a swearing-in ceremony for the new terms of three city council members on Jan. 2 and discussed renewals of several city contracts and funding of infrastructure projects.

Returning council members Awet Eyasu and Debra Johnson and newly elected city council member Mark Perkins were sworn in by Municipal Court Judge David Will.

Perkins was previously a city council member and is returning to the seat after it was held by Laura Hopkins for one term.

All the council members took the opportunity to thank family and the community for their support.

“I’m honored to get your support three times in a row,”  Eyasu said.

“I enjoyed the last four years, and I want to thank everyone for supporting everyone on this dais,” Johnson said.

Perkins spoke of the tradition of service in his family and the Clarkston community.

“We come from backgrounds of service, of care, of making life accessible,” Perkins said.

L to R Vice Mayor Debra Johnson, Councilmember Mark Perkins, Judge David Will and Councilmember Awet Eyasu. Photo by Sara Amis

Johnson and Councilmember YT Bell were nominated for vice mayor. Johnson is the current vice mayor. The council will vote at the next regular meeting. The council also discussed the renewal of several ongoing contracts and appointments, including the city auditor, municipal court judge, city attorney, solicitor, and audiovisual services.

Council members expressed a desire to review contracts or consider alternatives rather than automatically re-appointing the same people.

Eyasu praised the current city attorney’s work but also raised the possibility of seeking a new city attorney contract through a request for proposal process. Stephen Quinn has served as Clarkston’s city attorney for more than 15 years.

In response to a question from Mayor Beverly Burks, Interim City Manager Tammi Saddler Jones said that it was usual to review those contracts every five years or so.

Bell asked what process is mandated by the city charter. Quinn said that he serves at the pleasure of the council.

“You don’t have to do anything to keep me, and you can start the process of looking for someone else at any time,” Quinn said.

However, Quinn added, the municipal court judge and city solicitor positions are mandated by state law to be renewed with an annual contract.

The re-appointment of David Will as municipal court judge and Mauldin & Jenkins as city auditor will be on the consent agenda for the next meeting. The reappointment of Christopher Diwan as city solicitor will be voted on at the next meeting.

The city also considered the future of its contract with Ikon Filmworks for audiovisual services. The company was hired after there were technical problems at the Oct. 31 meeting.

City Clerk Tomika Mitchell said that the equipment owned by the city is functional but when there is a problem tech support does not appear for several days.

Jones said that part of the problem is that the city has no dedicated audiovisual staff, and it is logistically difficult for the city clerk to manage AV as well as her other duties during meetings.

Johnson said that the problem needed more discussion. Meanwhile, the city needs streaming for its meetings.

“I would like to continue using [Ikon Filmworks’] services until we figure this out,” Johnson said.

The council also discussed a list of infrastructure projects that are potential uses for the city’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation. City Engineer Larry Kaiser said the grant was rolled over from last year, and it will be possible to roll over another year, which will mean the city would have about $400,000 in addition to SPLOST funds.  However, Kaiser recommended that the city go ahead and start on the list of projects this year.

“You have too many needs,” Kaiser said. Kaiser added that if any of the projects came in with overestimated costs, the city could use leftover funds from SPLOST I to make up the difference.

“Let’s get the streets paved for the people,” Burks said.

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