By Katie Fallon
Following the resignation of District 1 Councilman Dave Greenspan, the city council on Sept. 4 approved a resolution calling for a Nov. 6 special election and possible runoff election for Dec. 4.
The council also approved a resolution to let the Fulton County Board of Elections run the election, despite the city only just receiving an exorbitant bill for its 2005 mayoral and council elections.
Steve Rapson, the city’s Assistant City Manager for Administration and Finance, reported this November’s special election is estimated to cost the city $36,420, with a runoff election estimated at $19,434.
This year’s special election cost estimates, Rapson said, are mostly for traditional items like poll workers, managers and rental fees for vehicles, cell phones and even polling places. The feels however, also include a 10 percent administrative surcharge.
Rapson received a chorus of groans, though, when he reported to the city council that the city has just received a bill from Fulton County for the special elections it held in 2005 before the city officially opened for business on Dec. 1 of that year.
Rapson said that new bill for the old election is approximately $288,000.
“When I saw this invoice with all the items, I hit the ceiling,” Mayor Eva Galambos said. “I cannot believe what they are charging us.”
Rapson said that he has explained to the Board of Election’s interim director why some of the fees constituted “double-dipping.” The director, he said, has agreed to take his concerns back to the board to re-examine the charges.
Rapson said he recommended that the city still go ahead and pay the $288,000 bill, but write into the contract for the new election that if the costs for the Nov. 6 special election are adjusted, then the city would also get a credit for what it paid for the 2005 elections.
Legally, the city could fight the county on the 2005 bill because, as Rapson reported, the county had two years to send a bill, but actually took two years and two days.
“I think if we tried to fight the two days, we’d lose,” Rapson said.
Galambos said the city may not have to pay for its upcoming election because a vote in south Fulton on the fate of the area’s industrial district could cause a countywide vote. In that case, the city could simply piggyback its elections on the county’s and not have to pay to find Greenspan’s replacement. Either way, Galambos said she wanted someone to report to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners how Sandy Springs is being overcharged by its election officials.
City Manager John McDonough said that in the future, it is possible that Sandy Springs and other newly formed north Fulton cities like Milton and Johns Creek could manage their own elections.
During the meeting, the City Council also approved a resolution adopting a Phase 1 Master Plan for the Abernathy Greenspace Linear Park.
Prior to the unanimous approval of the resolution District 3 Councilman Rusty Paul announced state Reps. Joe Wilkinson and Wendell Willard, who is also the Sandy Springs city attorney, have supported the city’s application for state financial assistance for the park.
“We will have a significant amount of money coming from the state for the park,” Paul said. “I can’t tell you how much or when. I know how much, but I can’t say until the paperwork is done.”
To view the Master Plan approved by the City Council, visit www.sandyspringsga.org.