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Charter commission receives pushback on property tax changes
by Angela Spencer
aspencer@neighbornewspapers.com
June 05, 2012 09:52 PM | 1151 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Johns Creek City Charter Commission is in the process of reviewing and proposing amendments to the charter, and earlier this week the commission held two public hearings to get citizen reactions from their draft of the new charter.

“The charter is really a constitution for the city and not a policy document,” said charter commission facilitator Lyle Sumek at Monday night’s meeting.

The charter review is a six-month process that will be completed June 14 when the commission approves of a suggested revised charter that will be sent to the state for review and adoption.

“The task is very basic: To make a recommendation on charters to the state legislature,” Sumek said. “It does not go to the mayor and council, it goes directly to the state legislature.”

Sumek said the charter commission focused on the election process, finances, city employee structure, applying a corporate model to the city and citizen engagement.

The millage rate was one change to the charter citizens spoke about at the public hearing. In the original charter, a raise to the millage rate would require approval by “a majority of the eligible voters in the City by referendum.” The charter commission changed that provision to “a majority of voters voting on the millage rate referendum” in their final draft.

“This [millage rate] restriction was used as a huge selling factor at the time to gain votes to become a city,” said Johns Creek citizen Mark Endres. “Ask yourself: If the charter was originally written in the manner with the proposed change would the city still have received enough votes to incorporate?”

Endres said a millage rate issue was one draw for citizen to vote to get out of unincorporated Fulton County, but the proposed change would be a step backwards.

“Please remember why we formed our city and removed ourselves from the Fulton County government system,” he said.

The proposed change to the city structure was also brought up by a citizen. Marvin Hoeflinger said he was concerned that the strong mayoral form of government was going to be replaced by an emphasis on the city manager.

“My concern is, as I read this, the city manager would control the budget, and the city council and mayors are elected, the manager is not,” he said. “As a resident and homeowner in Johns Creek I’d like to have my representation on elected officials, not someone who’s appointed.”

The charter commission will meet today to review suggestions from these public hearings before submitting their final document June 14.
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