Published Wednesday, October 10, 2012
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
A few townspeople attended the Grantville City Council’s Monday meeting anticipating contention, and they were not disappointed — even though council members voted to remove controversial agenda items as a first order of business.
Council member Selma Coty expected to bring forward a proposal to return $187,000 from the 2002-2007 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to Coweta County, which has asked the city to cover its agreed-on portion of construction costs for the Grantville Public Library.
In her agenda request, Coty wrote that Grantville owes the money and should remit the funds because of a 2001 intergovernmental agreement between the city and county. Coweta County contributed more than $1.2 million toward the library’s construction while Grantville promised approximately $223,000, according to the agenda request. Because project costs were offset by a $1 million state grant and the city’s actual contribution was $36,034, Grantville owes the balance to Coweta County, Coty contends.
But the proposal never made it before the council.
Council member Rochelle Jabaley moved to strike the item from the agenda, saying Coty had “overstepped her bounds” by meeting individually with Coweta County Administrator Theron Gay to discuss the matter.
“I believe Ms. Coty has violated Section 2.09 of the city charter by undertaking on her own to visit the county manager,” said Jabaley, pointing out that Section 2.09 requires the council to “act in all matters as a body.”
“What was I supposed to do, ask your permission?” Coty responded.
The council sided with Jabaley, voting to remove the proposal from the agenda and instead send the matter to the city’s administrative committee for review, setting the stage for its re-introduction to the full council for vote at a later time.
An amendment to the city’s charter regarding the hiring of an attorney – also a Coty proposal – was dropped from the agenda and referred to the administrative committee as well.
“I brought this to you each individually, and it’s been a topic of conversation for the last three years,” Coty said. “And I spoke with [City Attorney Mark Mitchell] about this before I ever put it on the agenda.”
“You cannot consider it a discussion when you talk one on one,” Jabaley reiterated. “If we’re going to discuss something as a group, we all need to be together.”
Mayor Jim Sells removed his own agenda item – possible purchase of a vehicle using SPLOST funds – before the meeting was able to proceed.
In other business, the council:
• Heard from Gay and County Commissioner Tim Lassetter – present at the meeting – who offered to meet with Grantville’s administrative committee about the library funds. Gay also informed the council about an amendment to the city’s separate Local Option Sales Tax distribution that will allow Grantville to keep any surplus if sales tax revenue exceeds expectations.
• Authorized an expenditure of $248,000 for full-depth reclamation of Bohannon Road, over the objections of Cooks and Lundy.
“Again, I’m going to say we’re going in the wrong direction,” Cooks said. “Our budget doesn’t allow us to spend money like that.”
“We don’t have enough money to do all of our roads, but this is a major artery and it will last 20 years,” said Sells, who broke the tie in favor of the work.
• Waived the remainder of a 75-day waiting period on special events application, allowing the city to move forward with a Zombie Fun Run provided its organizers meet with organizers of the town’s annual Chili Cook-Off, scheduled for the same day.
• Tabled a Declaration of Surplus Property until complete spreadsheets can be distributed to council members.
Tempers flared again during council comments, when Coty accused Sells of trying to embarrass her in front of Gay and Lassetter, who had left the meeting by then.
“This is directed at you personally: If you think for one minute that you embarrassed me tonight in front of [county officials], you’re sadly mistaken,” Coty told Sells. “You embarrassed yourself.”
Coty also took Sells to task about posting her refund proposal on the Citizens FOR the Grantville Water Park Facebook page.
“You use social media to put out half-truths and complete untruths to rally people around you,” Coty said.
“You’re not a street bully,” Sells retorted. “You need to show some courtesy above a third grade level.”
Sells went on to say he intends to continue using social media as well as email to disseminate city business.
“I believe transparency is very important and the public needs to know what’s going on,” he said. “I will express my opinion, and the worst that could happen is people can come into this city council’s meetings and if I’m being untruthful, it’ll be obvious.”