Several Sandy Springs elected officials told members of the city’s Charter Commission they found little they wanted to change in the five-year-old city’s charter.
“It’s pretty amazing how good this charter was, to get us going as it did,” Mayor Eva Galambos told charter commission members during their meeting April 12. “To me, I really have to look for problems.”
City Councilman Tibby DeJulio agreed. “My overriding concern is the old saying: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ DeJulio said. “It’s not only worked well, it’s worked better than our expectations.”
The charter, the document that establishes how the city should run, was adopted by the state Legislature. The charter itself calls for its review after five years, and the nine-member commission is studying how well the charter has worked and whether changes are needed. The commission will recommend to state lawmakers any changes it finds should be made.
The Charter Commission plans to hold a public hearing on April 26 to hear citizens’ opinions on any needed changes in the document. The hearing will be held in the city courtroom and council chambers at City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road, Building 500. The meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m.
Although the elected officials said they were happy with the document overall, they did suggest a few changes.
Galambos suggested the commission consider changing charter language to make it clear that all city judges have equal powers. “There is no chief judge,” she said.
She also said the charter called for the city clerk to report to the council each month on the city’s finances – a revelation that surprised City Clerk Michael Casey. “Surely it meant the finance director,” he said.
Among items the commission discussed was whether voters should elect council members citywide rather than from districts and whether council terms should be staggered so that all council members aren’t elected in the same year.
DeJulio said not staggering terms meant “if we can do something heinous, we can all be voted out at once.” And restricting council races to districts, rather than running them across the city, meant that more candidates could afford to run. He called at-large elections “a real mistake,” saying “it would exclude a lot of people from running just on the cost.”
City Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny called staggered terms “a great idea” and said a way should be found for council members to request information directly from city staffers.
Recently elected City Councilman Gabriel Sterling said the city should keep a cap on the tax millage. “Do not, absolutely, mess with our tax cap,” Sterling said. “People like that tax cap.”