Atlanta Out Loud

Politics and rantings and just stuff that catches my attention.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

|| 10:08:12 PM
Is Shirley Coming Around?

Tomorrow should be fun down at City Hall.

Mayor Franklin will deliver her "State of the City" addresss to the City Council. The Council will later again consider measures to raise water and sewer rates to comply with federal mandates. The Council will also no doubt hear an earful from citizens on this as well as the early bar closings.

But the standoff between the Mayor and City Council may be softening. Today, the AJC reports that the Mayor "is now willing to eliminate $290.6 million in construction projects from the 2004-2008 capital projects list, according to a memo from the city's Watershed Management Department to Renay Blumenthal, the city's budget director. A total of $24 million in projects would be cut and the rest deferred until between 2009 and 2014. That means rate increases to pay for that work could be delayed until 2009 or after."

The article goes on to say, "Franklin also has said she is willing to cut $6.9 million from the proposed $136.4 million Watershed Management operating budget." That's a far cry from the $25 million in savings wished for by the City Council, but it's also a long way from Franklin's stance that they can't cut another dime out of Watershed's budget.

One of the eight Council members who supported the alternative plan which Mayor Franklin vetoed last month has now put forth an alternative plan. "The Willis Plan" from H. Lamar Willis will place the majority of the burden for the sewer repairs on the heaviest users -- Atlanta's businesses. With corporations like Georgia Pacific aggressively supporting and lobbying for Mayor Franklin's original plan, it will be interesting to see their stance on this one. "They should have no problem with it," predicts an optimistic Mr. Willis.

Also, remember that memo sent to the EPA by the Department of Watershed management predicting doom and gloom for Atlanta if we missed the January 2 deadline to advertise for sewer project bids? I commented on it here. Now, the department has softened even its stance on that. Officials at the time predicted a chain reaction of missed deadlines. Last Friday came and went with no advertisements. But, now they point out that there is a 37-day "float" in the timeline. So, there's still time to prevent the sky from falling.

City Councilman Derrick Boazman calls that "a game by the administration to try to make their position appear more grave than it really is." True, the timeline was always public knowledge, but you can read the letter for yourself and see if you think there was any allusion to it in the City's December 16 letter to the EPA. On this one, I agree with Boazman.

I'll be at the meeting tomorrow, although a bit late. I'll write about it here afterwards.


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