Stonecrest’s Comprehensive Plan was recently approved by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Atlanta Regional Commission. The city had an August 2019 deadline to develop an approved 20-year Comprehensive Plan. Labeled ‘Comprehensive Plan 2038’, the document guides the city’s look and feel for current and future developments. It is scheduled for a council vote on February 25, 2019.
The city will be awarded a Qualified Local Government designation once the council approves the plan. This designation will allow the city to impose development impact-fees, participate in certain DCA Programs like the community development block grants, loan guarantees (Section 108), local development funds, and programs administered by other state departments like the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
“The next step will be for city staff to revise the current zoning ordinances to match the approved comprehensive plan,” said Nicole Dozier, the city’s community development director.
Citizens input was an integral part of the plan. A series of vision meetings were held to discuss the city’s needs, opportunities, vision and desired character areas, according to Mary Darby, Director of Planning and Economic Development for the Collaborative Firm, a consultant retained by the city to assist with the plan. The first meeting was held on April 16, 2018, and allowed residents to identify the three greatest assets of the city which included easy access to I-20 and the greenspace offered at Arabia Mountain.
“A city’s comprehensive plan is not a part of an average citizen’s normal conversation. This does not denounce its importance, however. It is paramount to understand what a comprehensive plan is and its significance in the life of everyone within a given city, be they homeowners, lawmakers, business owners, or commuting workers,” said Darby.
“This approval brings the city one step closer to its vision of becoming a world-class city. We have worked on this for years and finally we have a comprehensive plan that will take us from now to 2038. It encompasses a complete economic development plan which included tourism of Arabia Mountain, our commercial and industrial development and the maintenance of high-quality homes,” Mayor Jason Lary said.
Recently, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) delivered a check for $536,511 to Mayor Jason Lary and the city as a part of a Local Maintenance Improvement Grant (LMIG). The annual grant will be used to begin repaving the city’s damaged roads, according to the mayor.
The LMIG is given to cities and counties based on population. Stonecrest must match the funds by adding at least 30 percent which would increase the total available funds to nearly $700,000; however, the mayor and council voted to add more funds bringing the total to more than $1.3 million.
“As I promised in my last Straight Talk meeting, we are going to make our roads safe. We have the money. Now we will begin serving our citizens and keeping my promise,” the mayor said. “Initially, we are looking to pave 18 neighborhood streets including Turner Hill Road,” he added.
The 18 streets were chosen as the worst streets in the city according to a DeKalb County Road analysis. The city is planning to update this road analysis using a digital system that will provide more detailed information. “We will work in collaboration with DeKalb County to get the remaining city streets repaired,” Mayor Lary said.
DeKalb County Roads and Drainage continues to do repair and patchwork on city streets such as Mall Parkway. The mayor said that he is aware of the pothole problem’s enormity, but he said he is confident that these combined efforts can make a significant impact toward getting this problem solved.
Citizens may report and even take photos of potholes using the new Pothole Reporter app on the city’s website – www.stonecrestga.gov.
“Whatever you do, do something and do it to the best of your ability,” was among the quotes given by Mayor Jason Lary yesterday at Lithonia High School’s Signing Day. The students, mostly athletes, and their parents listened to the mayor’s motivational speech before participating in their National Signing Day, in which four 12th grade football players officially announced the schools they will be attending next year.
Ja’Courtney Snipes, Kaveh Brantley, Gerald Sanders, and Zaryon Stubbs collectively earned football scholarships totaling more than a quarter of a million dollars. They will be attending Charleston Southern University, Independence Community College, Hutchinson Community College, and Rinehardt University on two and four-year scholarships. “We are seeing a greater interest in football,” said Lithonia Head Football Coach David Edwards. “When I first started working here, students were looking at me like I was crazy when I asked them about playing sports. Now because these young men’s leadership and the positive role models, more young students want to follow in their footsteps,” he added.
The high school students invited Lithonia Middle School’s football team to attend the event. Retired NFL cornerback Tyrone Poole was also a guest speaker who encouraged the students and presented copies of his book, Ultimate Success in the Game of Life.
Mayor Pro Tem George Turner and Councilwoman Diane Adoma received a Certificate of Recognition from the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute during the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Annual Mayors’ Day Conference in Atlanta.
The Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute, a cooperative effort of GMA and the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government provides a nationally recognized series of training opportunities for city officials. To receive the certificate a city official must complete a minimum of 42 credit hours, including at least 18 hours from a list of required classes. The training program consists of a series of more than 60 courses.
“This is an outstanding achievement,” said GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson. “We commend Councilman Turner for this accomplishment and for the dedication he has shown in using this valuable resource to become a more effective city official.” Based in Atlanta, GMA is a voluntary, non-profit organization that provides legislative advocacy, research, training, employee benefits, and technical consulting services to its 538-member cities.
On Common Ground News - The City of Stonecrest has named Sean DePalma, formerly parks director of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, as its new Parks and Recreation Director. DePalma began his duties on Jan. 7, 2019.
Mayor Jason Lary said DePalma is a good fit for the city. “We needed a person with varied skills in parks administration, personnel, facilities, green living, entertainment and sports. We felt he was the best fit overall for our needs for now and in the future,” Lary said.
DePalma has more than 20 years of municipal administration in parks and recreation. In his previous role in Fort Myers Beach, DePalma developed and administered a $5.3 million budget and led up 52 skilled professionals. Prior to working in Fort Myers Beach, he held management positions in Florida with the City of Miami Gardens, Broward County, City of Coconut Creek and the City of North Miami Beach, where he managed a diverse team of more than 100 public servants.
DePalma received his master’s degree in Parks and Recreation Management from Frostburg State University. He also holds more than 30 professional certifications including Parks and Recreation Professional, Aquatic Facility Operator, Six Sigma LEAN Green Belt Executive Project Management, Parks and Recreation System Master Planning and Youth Sports Administration.
DePalma said he is excited to join the city. “Being granted the honor to serve as Parks and Recreation Director for Stonecrest creates the opportunity to influence true change,” said DePalma. “I know that the evolution of the Parks and Recreation Department is an opportunity for the City to increase the level of quality, as well as the diversity of services to our citizens. We are working to develop a world-class parks and recreation system that will deliver impactful, community engagement, enrichment programs, modern facilities, clean, and safe parks. Moreover, I genuinely look to hear, speak and serve every citizen of Stonecrest.”The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting was awarded to the City of Stonecrest by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.
The Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting was awarded to the City of Stonecrest by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.
In conjunction with the GFOA award, Mayor Jason Lary and City Manager Michael Harris presented an Award of Financial Reporting Achievement to City Accounts Manager Audrey Mays at last night’s city council meeting. Mays and Harris worked on the CAFR with representatives from Mauldin and Jenkins, the city’s external auditing firm.
“I feel great. The CAFR is a great recognition, especially for our first year. We were in total compliance with the high standards set by the Government Finance Officers Association. Usually, cities don’t do CAFRs until they are about five years old. We intend on doing a CAFR every year as we have set our standards high,” Mays said.
The CAFR was judged by an impartial panel to meet the program’s high standards which include, demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR. - 1/29/19
Mayor Jason Lary teamed with CBS46 Atlanta yesterday to provide Stonecrest residents with information regarding the city’s growing pothole problem. The mayor was interviewed by CBS46 reporter Melissa Stern who inquired about the problem after a few residential complaints.
During the interview, the mayor explained how the city council can now use Special Local Option Sales Tax Funds to pay for road repairs. He also informed the reporter of the intent to hire a right-of-way maintenance supervisor who will also help identify troubled spots on the city’s roads.
In a recent city council meeting, Kerry Williams, a civil engineer and a member of the city’s SPLOST Advisory Committee, gave a presentation outlining options for paving the city’s roads. Williams explained the difference between roads that need repairs and resurfacing versus rehabilitation and the cost associated with each process. He encouraged the council to use a Pavement Management System so that the data collected will enable the city to wisely and systematically spend money on road improvements. Williams said that if the council starts the process of analyzing the roads immediately, they will be prepared for paving season which usually runs from April to early November because of the warm weather. If you wait and hire a SPLOST project manager, data collector and a paving contractor you may not be able to begin paving until October, Williams said. “If you start paving in October, then you have missed the paving season for 2019,” Williams added. He continued explaining that if the council would use current staffing and the city engineer to manage the process, residents could see new roads improvements as early as July.
“We recommend that the council move forward without the procurements of a project manager, instead hire somebody immediately that will do your road evaluations. This will allow the city to begin paving in July,” Williams reiterated. “A lot of the good paving contractors have already booked their 2019 paving season, so the city must move fast because by March the contractors will be out in full force,” he added.
Mayor Lary echoed William’s sentiments but informed the reporter that city council must vote to approve the funding of these paving projects as well as the method in which the city will move forward with its SPLOST contracts. “Once that is done, we can move forward. Hopefully by the Spring,” the mayor added. Last month the city’s SPLOST fund balance was $4.8 million. Approximately $600,000 is added to the fund monthly.
Here is the link for the CBS46 interview.
To view Kerry Williams’ presentation, click this link. His presentation starts at the 06:55 mark.
Stonecrest, GA – “Zero tax increase, just as we promised,” was Mayor Jason Lary’s mantra yesterday as he and the City Council approved a $9,168,400 budget during a special called meeting. The new budget’s bottom line represents more than a $2.5 million, or 41% revenue increase over the 2018 budget primarily due to the city’s ability to now receive a state insurance premium tax. The tax will not affect residents nor businesses in the area. Municipalities receive the tax from the state for property, casualty, and life insurance policies purchased by those within the city.
The 2019 budget outlines a plan to hire one part-time and seven full-time employees, including a procurement officer, a code enforcement officer, a right of way field services manager, three parks and recreation employees, and an administrative assistant. “Department directors made presentations to the mayor and council and were successful in getting line items added for an economic development plan, Municode software to codify the city’s ordinances and make them easily accessible, a new website, and area beautification to name a few,” Mayor Jason Lary said.
The city will also expand to include three new departments - Business Development, Parks and Recreation, and Community and Cultural Affairs. The Public Works Department will expand services to include a right of way maintenance department that will keep the lawns on our city’s thoroughfares maintained and clean.
“We went from a $6.4 million budget to a $9.1 million budget without a tax increase and the city can still boast about our zero-millage rate. As promised, the extra revenue came from insurance premiums and an increase in revenue received from business license fees that DeKalb couldn’t collect,” the mayor said. The city’s business license revenue was increased by the addition of 536 new businesses and the auditing work of code enforcement officers, who investigated 170 businesses for 2018 license renewals. More than half of them complied and renewed their licenses, according to Code Enforcement Manager, Alejandro Ferrell. The remaining 170 had closed or moved. “Our city is growing, and we are the most reasonable and largest city in DeKalb to live. In 2019, we will continue to keep our promises of fiscal responsibility as we continue to operate and grow as a world-class city,” Mayor Lary added.
The council passed the budget by a four-to-one vote. - 12/13/18
Mayor Jason Lary named the members of the city’s new SPLOST Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee during last night’s city council meeting. The 12-member committee will ensure that the city is accountable for the funds generated by the 1% tax that voters approved in 2017. SPLOST will generate an estimated $47 million for the city over the next five and a half years.
The mayor said the committee is diverse with a wide range of skills that will be essential for making SPLOST recommendations to the council. “Committee members have backgrounds in engineering, legal, procurement, accounting and finance, construction project management, public safety, parks and recreation, and information technology,” Mayor Lary said. The committee, comprised of members from each of the city’s five districts, will meet later this month to begin reviewing the SPLOST management scope of services and set goals for projects recommended by Stonecrest citizens. - 10/16/18
Mayor Jason Lary clears the air and sets the record straight concerning his 'resignation from office'. In an exclusive with 'On Common Ground News' the mayor gives health updates and reassures the city that he's not done yet! View the exclusive feature. - 9/28/18
Stonecrest's Development Authority members completed training by the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Trainees gained insight into how such authorities serve a city's economic development process. We visited both Suwannee and Smyrna, studying their models of success in economic development. Authority members received certificates after completing the course which included training in ethics, conflicts of interest, bonds, incentives, strategic planning and finance. View the press release for full details. - 9/28/18
Since taking office May 1, 2017, Mayor Jason Lary has led the efforts to put the new city of Stonecrest on the map. Among many things, he secured the first city hall offices and a U.S. Postal mailing designation the city. This month, the city reached another milestone - installation of 'Stonecrest City Limit' signs. For more details on how the city's progress view the latest news feature within 'On Common Grounds News' on Stonecrest's development. - 9/5/18
Mayor Jason Lary recently visited Guyana to strengthen the business relationship between Stonecrest and the South American country that recently discovered oil. The mayor consulted with the Guyanese government to teach them about the city’s contract-for-services model so that they can have best-in-class employees and services, especially in anticipation of their inevitable growth.
Exxon-Mobil publicly announced a commercially-viable oil find that will produce an estimated 100,000 barrels per day in the coming years. Mayor Lary and Guyanese officials agreed that as the region prospers, so will foreign entrepreneurship along with an increase in import and export opportunities. Yet, prior to these opportunities, the country remains poverty-stricken, and the mayor as vowed to help.
“It is our moral and Christian duty to help those who are less fortunate than we are, even if they are miles away,” the mayor said. The mayor and the city’s Community Affairs Manager, Al Franklin, visited Georgetown and New Amsterdam. The mayor presented keys to the city and received one in return from Georgetown. The mayor will hold strategic planning sessions in the coming weeks to identify ways that Stonecrest can aid in one of Guyana’s main hospitals. “The rooms and beds are substandard when you compare them to our hospitals,” Mayor Lary said. “We will find a way to help.”
Not all areas to the country are poverty-stricken. The United States exported approximately $381.5 million in products to Guyana recently, representing nearly 27% of Guyana’s total imports. The demand remains strong for agricultural and capital machinery, telecommunications equipment, computers, farm chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers, and consumer food products. The mayor said he intends to lay the foundation for Stonecrest’s new and future businesses to benefits from the available import and export opportunities available in Guyana.
Hello Great Residents of Stonecrest!
This is to inform you that these charter change notices will be advertised for 60 days in The Champion Newspaper and will be on the city council agenda for public comment in October and November. The affected sections are 1.03 (Millage Rate Tax), 2.13 (Employment Prohibition), 3.11 (City Finance Director Appointment) as well as 4.02, 4.03 and 4.06 (Changing Judge's Title). Click on the associated links for specifics. - 8/30/18
New public transportation options are coming to Stonecrest, and greater DeKalb County! Mayor Jason Lary forms part of the project management team tasked with identifying and developing public transportation initiatives. The ARC-sponsored (Atlanta Regional Commission) DeKalb County Transit Master Plan, identifies transportation developments to complement existing transit options. The transit plan aims to 1) address the county’s mobility challenges, 2) enhance future development opportunities and 3) improve quality of life of all DeKalb County residents. Visit the DeKalb County Transit Master Plan website for additional details and updates. - 8/15/18
The in-depth feature highlights the city’s accomplishments, current direction and future plans. View Stonecrest's news feature here. - 8/8/18
Jacobs’ Intern Initiative is a two-month (June 13 – August 24) summer program for local Georgia university/college students to receive practical training within their field of study. Set mostly in government offices, the 13 hand-picked interns are honing their skills in engineering, communications and public administration. Based at one of five sites throughout the state, the interns have weekly ‘Intern Days’ when all interns gather at a rotating site to share work experiences and knowledge gained at their assigned sites. Participating sites include the cities of Stonecrest, Johns Creek, Tucker, Peachtree Corners and Jacobs’ regional headquarters. - 7/5/18
In an effort to crack down on all of the illegal house parties that have been taking place here in Stonecrest, I have ordered our Code Enforcement Manager, Al Ferrell, along with his entire staff, to identify and shut down these events before they begin. District 4 Councilman George Turner and I have heard you loud and clear to put these "Illegal gatherings" at the top of our community list. They are unsafe, out of compliance, and a traffic and noise nightmare for the residences in that neighborhood, and adjoining properties.
In response to an event that was being promoted for this weekend at a house in Sandstone Shores, (Mansion Pool Party), my City staff and DeKalb County PD have met with the current tenant of the house, as well as the individual promoting the party. Both individuals have been cited by Code Enforcement for promoting a commercial activity in a residential area without the proper permits or licenses. Representatives from DCPD further reiterated the numerous State violations that would be imposed if the party were to occur.
Based on today’s meeting, the promoter has stated that he will cancel the event and update all of his social media outlets to notify everyone that the event is canceled. Our Code Enforcement staff and DCPD will continue to monitor this issue throughout the week. Our city team has been doing a great job in identifying these “Party House” locations and working with the property owners to bring an end to these activities.
THIS WILL STOP!! AND IT WILL STOP NOW!! - 6/26/18
Mayor Jason Lary and Councilman Rob Turner presented a proclamation to Dr. Secora Lambert naming Monday, June 18, 2018, as Lambert Chiropractic and Wellness Center Day in Stonecrest. Dr. Lambert's practice has been recognized a winner of The 2018 American Small Business Championship by SCORE. There were only two Georgia winners and only 102 nationwide. Dr. Lambert specializes in educating the community on detrimental lifestyles, proper hydration, physical activity, stress management, sleeping habits, and chiropractic care. Lambert Chiropractic is located at 2978 Miller Rd in Stonecrest. - 6/22/18
City hall now can be identified from the exterior of the building. The building formerly known solely as "The Strayer Building" now is jointly known as Stonecrest City Hall as the building bears the name of both entities. FastSigns was the company that installed the city's first sign. - 6/12/18
The U.S. Postal service recently added Stonecrest, GA to their list of acceptable city and state designations. City residents may now use Stonecrest instead of Lithonia when mailing packages using the postal service. Stonecrest zip codes will remain the same.
“This is one more step that will help put Stonecrest on the map,” Mayor Jason Lary said.
Amazon, United Parcel Service, and FedEx have not officially followed suit; however, the USPS change will make it easier to bring the other three shipping services up to date. Staff members are also working with Google Maps to get Stonecrest as a designation. Currently, Stonecrest addresses placed in Google still default to Lithonia.
“The process of updating Google is a lengthy, arduous one. The City’s GIS manager submitted the necessary information to Google last summer,” said Adrion Bell, the city’s communications director. Google periodically verifies and updates their records. In February the city’s Google classification was upgraded from a “new submission” to “under review”. “We hope this process is completed by the summer,” Bell added. - 5/17/18
This week the city’s building officials introduced an online portal that will allow residents and builders to obtain building permits and schedule inspections online. Kerry Caldwell introduced the new feature at a builders’ breakfast recently. The link to start the online building permit process may be found on the city’s website under the Building Permitting and Land Use section or by clicking this link. - 5/4/18
Members of Maudlin & Jenkins began an external audit of the city's financial records this week. Three members of the CPA firm, T.J Holloman, James Bence, and Will Derzis are reviewing documents from 2017 and will prepare a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report by June 30th. The city's finances have been handled by the Accounting Manager Audrey Mays with oversight by the City Manager Michael Harris. - 5/2/18
Stonecrest staff members participated in a Real Men Read event at Salem Middle School last Friday. The two-hour event featured men from around the metropolitan area who volunteered to read to middle school students. Among the volunteers were Stonecrest City Manager Michael Harris and staff members, Plez Joyner, Demetrius Ivey, and Chris Wheeler. - 3/6/18
Stonecrest’s first municipal court was called to order at 9 a.m., Tuesday. Judge Michael Sheridan presided over the first court session that was held to adjudicate five city environmental ordinance violations issued by the city’s code enforcement officers. Lenny Felgin served as the city’s solicitor. Deputies from DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office are slated to serve as bailiffs until Stonecrest establishes its own law enforcement division.
Municipal court is scheduled for the second Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. and the fourth Thursday at 6 p.m. - 2/15/18
Mayor Jason Lary and city staff members met with Vaugh Irons and the Atlanta Sports City staff today to begin plans for the construction of their first athletic fields. Irons and Chris Daniluk, CEO of Deluxe Athletics, will be applying for permits to build six multipurpose fields and three baseball fields on Mall Parkway. The multipurpose athletic fields can be used for sports ranging from soccer to lacrosse.
Construction of the turf fields will begin around March 15, 2018, with a targeted completion by the end of June. “We already have tournaments scheduled for July,” Irons said. Daniluk, whose company will be responsible for the construction of the fields, said he will submit the proper plans and apply for the grading permit before the end of February.
The mayor acknowledged that this construction will involve a change to the Stonecrest overlay district. An ordinance must be adopted to change the overlay district allowing for the construction of athletic playing fields. The mayor said that he and his staff will do whatever it takes to get this project off the ground and make Atlanta Sports City a success. - 1/31/18
Mayor Jason Lary and the city council elected councilmember George Turner as their new mayor pro tem in a 5 to 0 vote today. Outgoing mayor pro tem Diane Adoma abstained from voting. The council held the election in accordance with the city charter which directs the council to elect a new mayor pro tem during the first scheduled meeting in January after a regular election. Three councilmembers; Diane Adoma, Jimmy Clanton and Jazzmin Cobble were re-elected last November and sworn in during a January 3rd special called council meeting.c
Mayor Pro Tem Turner will be responsible for presiding over council meetings if Mayor Jason Lary is absent. Read more on George Turner. - 1/23/18
Mayor Jason Lary received news today that Stonecrest is a part of the list of finalists for the new Amazon Headquarters. The list of 20 cities listed Atlanta but according to the Georgia Economic Development Office, this includes metro Atlanta and thus, Stonecrest. “We are excited that our efforts are paying off. Members of the state’s economic development office applauded our marketing and branding efforts and credited us for helping shine a positive light on this area,” Mayor Lary said.
Stonecrest is offering to de-annex 345 acres for the retail giant’s headquarters. The city also used geo-fencing through a Seattle-based marketing firm to get a web-based, information video, and a site visit invitation directly to Amazon executives.
The mayor said that he has also spoken with Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms about collaborating with her to help win the bid for the metro area. “We are stronger together versus separate as both areas have unique assets,” the mayor said.
The next step for Stonecrest and other metro cities included in the Atlanta bid will be to prepare for a site visit from Amazon executives. The visits are slated for the first quarter of this year. - 1/18/18
Councilmembers Jimmy Clanton, Jazzmin Cobble, and Diane Adoma were sworn in for their first full term today during a special called city council meeting. The councilmembers were originally elected in the city’s first elections and runoffs in March and April 2017. In accordance with the city charter, half of the council had to run again in November of 2017 and the remaining councilmembers and mayor will have to run for office in 2019.
In other city business, the mayor and council voted 5 to 1 to adopt a new city charter. The charter now goes to the state legislature for approval. “The reason we have a new charter is to separate the executive branch from the legislative branch and their duties,” Mayor Jason Lary said. “By law, we have to take on additional departments such as public works. Also, the addition of a SPLOST budget drove us to adopt the new charter,” he added.
The new charter provides for the following:
Stonecrest Mayor and City Council unanimously passed a $6.2 million budget during a special call meeting yesterday evening. Next year’s budget balances out with the city having $851,150 in its reserve fund. “This is a pivotal point in our city’s history. We will finish 2017 with more than $100,000 in reserves after our debts have been paid. Next year our reserves will be far greater,” Mayor Jason Lary said. The mayor also pointed out that residents did not receive any increases in property taxes in 2017 and will not experience any property tax increases in 2018. Lary cited proper planning and good fiscal management as the reasons for the city’s success. “For a new city to finish their first year with a positive cash flow is phenomenal,” the mayor said.
The mayor cited a few examples of his staff’s fiscal responsibility. He said that he and city leaders were able to furnish and move into city hall for less than $10,000. The city staff occupied a temporary, rent-free office space from July to November 2017. They moved into the new city hall in November but will not begin paying for the 13,000-square-foot facility until April 2018.
The budget does not include revenue from the recently passed Special Local Option Sales Tax which is slated to add $7.6 million annually to the city’s bank account. A separate SPLOST budget was adopted in November for the allocation of these funds. See 2018 Budget Spreadsheet - 12/29/17
Mayor Jason Lary joined several local mayors and political leaders yesterday at a press conference thanking the public for their support of the Special Local Option Sales Tax. Seventy percent of the voters throughout DeKalb County favored the SPLOST to fund capital improvements.
Stonecrest will receive more than $47 million over the next six years. The mayor said the funds will give the city the ability to address several neglected areas in the infrastructure, including paying roads, repairing potholes, improving transportation and enhancing public safety. “After the city’s comprehensive assessment of road conditions, we will immediately work to resurface, patch and/or fill potholes. Road repairs are projected to start early next year,” the mayor said. “We will move swiftly to engage the citizens of Stonecrest and with their input, complete a series of transportation improvement plans. Citizen participation will be needed in upcoming community meetings to ensure that our transportation plans are reflective of our needs,” he added. The mayor said that in weeks to come, a Pothole Hotline will be created as well as a citizen-driven SPOST Oversight Committee.
Mayor Lary said that in the coming months, a feasibility study will be conducted to address the city’s public safety needs. The study will provide information to guide the spending of funds for a new police department. Mayor Lary praised the city and county voters. SPLOST funds will make a huge difference in the continued progress of Stonecrest, according to the mayor. - 11/9/17
Today at 4 pm, Mayor Jason Lary took the first swing of a sledgehammer and even jumped in an excavator to begin the demolition of the abandoned hotel commonly known as the Cinder Block Inn. The mayor and staff worked diligently with the property owners to ensure that the hotel was demolished as Lary promised during his candidacy for mayor.
“The process was about working with people and letting them know that we are emphatic about our community,” the mayor said. Lary’s Code Enforcement Manager, Al Ferrell said that he sent the owners of the property a letter of violation recently. The letter encouraged compliance with the city’s abandoned building ordinances and gave the owners 90 days to comply. Ferrell said shortly after speaking with the owners, he noticed an application for demolition and a schedule to comply with the ordinance.
The demolition will take three to four days according to Zenon & Zenon Contractors, Inc. owner Orlando Zenon. - 10/11/17
Today newspapers and media from around the nation are reporting on Mayor Jason Lary’s unique bid to lure Amazon’s second headquarters to Stonecrest. The mayor and council voted 4-2, yesterday to de-annex 345 acres of land and ask the Georgia General Assembly to use it to form Amazon, Georgia. “There are several major U.S. cities that want Amazon, but none has the branding opportunity we are now offering this visionary company,” the mayor said.
Amazon is seeking a 100-acre site that has access to an international airport, public transit and a high quality of living. The proposed land, located off South Stone Mountain-Lithonia Road, allows enough space for Amazon to expand into its proposed 8 million-square-foot campus over the next decade. The e-commerce retail and cloud computing giant will bring 50,000 jobs to the area with salaries averaging $100,000 annually. A fact sheet released by Amazon also said the company will invest $5 billion in capital expenditures over the next 15 to 17 years.
The mayor’s idea has taken off, putting the once-unheard-of city of Stonecrest in the national spotlight. The Stonecrest quest for Amazon story was picked up by the Associated Press and is running in every media outlet from Fortune.com and Bloomberg to CNBC. Amazon will decide on its second location next year. The deadline for submissions is October 19, 2017. - 10/4/17
Mayor Jason Lary and Council Members Diane Daniels Adoma and Jimmy Clanton helped the managers of Burlington Coat Factory celebrate their grand opening last Friday. Regional VP Terry Mosley, Burlington's Stonecrest Store Manager Greg Sapp, Eric Hubbard from Congressman Hank Johnson's Office, the mayor and council members participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by a donation of 3 pallets of new store items to Helping Oppressed Mothers Endure, Inc. The organization, HOME, Inc helps single working or student mothers survive the tough times and persevere towards an appointed time for success in life, according to Carolyn A. Watson, the founder. "We provide immediate resources to rebuild, restore and furnish homes of moms emerging from divorce, violence or in desperate need of starting over," she said. Mayor Lary expressed his appreciation to Burlington. "You have started out doing great things in the community on your first official day in business. We support you and welcome you to Stonecrest," Lary said.
Mayor Lary recently welcomed Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva to Stonecrest during a private dinner and reception at the Allen Institute. After dinner, the mayor presented the Silva with a key to the city and an official letter inviting the prime minister to enter into a sister-city relationship that will foster educational, professional, and economic exchanges.
The city of Stonecrest is among several municipalities across the country competing to lure Amazon’s new headquarters, which will be built in North America.Mayor Jason Lary announced at the Sept. 18th City Council meeting that Stonecrest has formally expressed its interest in attracting the tech giant. “We are sending in our bid. We will be competing with Vancouver, Toronto, Atlanta and other major cities across the country,” said Lary. “I believe we have a good shot at drawing that type of platform,” Lary said Stonecrest’s close proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the city’s focus on economic development make Stonecrest a prime candidate for consideration.
Amazon announced on Sept. 7 its plans to open HQ2, a second headquarters, in North America. The facilities would be equal to its campus in Seattle. Amazon said the new headquarters should have easy access to an airport with direct flights to Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. The company plans to spend billions of dollars developing the headquarters and will hire 50,000 workers - 9/27/17
Mayor Jason Lary and the city council approved a resolution affirming support for the call for a referendum on a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, today during a special call meeting. Their unanimous vote positions them to be in support of a county referendum to be voted on next Tuesday. If the county referendum passes, voters will decide on the SPLOST this November.
Special town hall meetings will continue throughout the city, giving business owners and residents the opportunity to voice their support or opposition to the SPLOST. In past public meetings, attendees suggested improvements and projects to be funded by the city’s portion of the SPLOST proceeds. The enclosed Exhibit A will provide an overview of the capital projects on which, the council intends to spend SPLOST proceeds.
The Georgia Legislature gave counties the option to implement SPLOSTS more than 30 years ago. SPLOSTs have always been placed on the ballot for approval by the county in which it is to be implemented. The proceeds from the tax must go toward capital projects. The state also mandated that municipalities receive a share of the county’s SPLOST revenues. The revenue amounts are determined by the size of the city’s population. It is estimated that Stonecrest will receive more than $47 million over the next six years. If the SPLOST vote passes, Stonecrest will start receiving funds around May 2018. - 9/21/17
Mayor Jason Lary administered the oath of office yesterday to Stonecrest’s first two municipal judges. Jonathan Weintraub was sworn in as the chief judge and Michael Sheridan took the oath for the judge pro tem. Weintraub and Sheridan are not newcomers to the DeKalb legal system. Weintraub was the county attorney for seven and a half years and served two years deputy chief operating officer and legal counsel to the chief operating officer. Weintraub also served five years as the county attorney for Gwinnett and three years as their assistant county attorney. Sheridan has practiced law for 11 years in DeKalb and is a partner at the law firm Davis & Sheridan, LLC. “These are the two best qualified people,” Lary said. “These attorneys would serve the city best as judges. They have been working in the DeKalb County for years,” he added. - 8/31/17
Business owners and service providers who decide to promote their businesses with signs on the right of ways in Stonecrest may not receive the customers that their advertising once yielded. The primary reason for this is that their signs are being removed by Stonecrest Code Enforcement Officers. “We recently went out and picked up more than 60 signs that were illegally placed,” said Al Ferrell, Chief Code Enforcement Officer.
Placing signs in right of ways such as the grass adjacent to Turner Hill Road is illegal regardless of the size and type of sign. This violates the city’s sign ordinance and can carry up to a $1,000 fine per sign. This offense like many ordinance violations is considered a misdemeanor and therefore can go on an individual’s criminal record. Ferrell said that he and his officers are trying to gain compliance before issuing citations. “We are encouraging people not to violate these sign ordinances; however, after a warning, we will issue citations,’ Ferrell said. - 8/24/17
Providers of local utilities are entering into franchise fee agreements with Stonecrest officials after the mayor and council passed the final ordinance for fee adoption this week. The agreement will assess franchise fees on AT&T, Atlanta Gas Light, Snapping Shoals EMC, Comcast, and Georgia Power. The fees are paid by the utility companies for rental and use of the city’s right of ways. These areas are used to run cables, gas lines, and wiring needed to provide utility service to city residents and businesses.
Franchise fees range from three to five percent of customer’s gas, telephone, cable and electric bills. This amount is set by Georgia’s Public Service Commission and is charged by most cities. “Throughout Georgia, utility companies are required to pay these fees. The utility company determines if they pass these fees on to their customers,” said Plez Joyner, assistant city manager. For example, Snapping Shoals EMC passes the entire 4% fee to their customers; whereas, Georgia Power only passes a portion of that same amount to their customers. Atlanta Gas Light’s agreement is already in place. Snapping Shoals EMC will enact their agreement September 1, 2017. Other franchise agreements for companies such as AT&T, Georgia Power, and Comcast are in the final process and should become effective within 60 days.
Franchise fees are paid directly to the city and are used to supplement the city’s operating budget. Counties are not allowed to charge these fees. - 8/22/17
Mayor Jason Lary and the Stonecrest City Council approved all necessary ordinances to lift the building permit and land development moratorium tonight at midnight. The Stonecrest Zoning Ordinance, a modified version of the DeKalb County Zoning Ordinance was adopted unanimously by the council. Changes to the ordinance include the rezoning for sexually oriented businesses. The council will only allow sexually oriented businesses, mainly adult entertainment clubs, in industrial areas zoned M2.
The Council appointed and confirmed the city’s first municipal court judge and judge pro tem, yesterday. Former DeKalb County Staff Attorney Jonathan Weintraub was appointed as Stonecrest’s chief judge and local attorney Michael Sheridan was appointed as his judge pro tem. Both positions will likely be part-time as the city establishes a court for ordinance and code enforcement violations. Stonecrest City Court will be held in City Hall once renovations are completed. The scheduled completion date will in October 2017.
A new Sign Ordinance was unanimously adopted. The mayor and council updated the DeKalb County Sign Ordinance to limit the size and the way signs are constructed. The ordinance also prohibited abandoned or damaged signs. As in the DeKalb Ordinance, city laws prohibit placing signs in the right of way adjacent to city roads and highways. The new city ordinance includes photos so that residents and business owners can view examples of acceptable, legal signs.
Three new Ford Fusions, one Ford 150 and a Ford Transit Connect are the initial vehicles in the city’s fleet. The vehicles will be used for code enforcement, building inspection, and administrative duties. As the fleet grows so is the staff that will occupy them. Lillian Lowe and Leah Rodriguez joined the Stonecrest staff as administrative assistants. Josh Roth is the city’s new building official and William Kirkland is the city’s first code enforcement officer.
The DeKalb County Comprehensive Plan was adopted by the city council. The plan outlines strategies and goals for residential, commercial, and industrial growth, along with land use, transportation, natural and cultural resources planning. The city can use the county’s plan for two years. Council and mayor must then adopt their own 20-year plan in accordance with Georgia law. As a part of the city’s plan for growth and economic development, the mayor and council appointed Bernard Knight to the East Metro Community Improvement District Board of Directors. Knight, an attorney who represents several businesses in the city, will be responsible for negotiating intergovernmental agreements for the provision of services by the CID as well as ensuring that the CID is allocating the proper funds to Stonecrest businesses.
The council’s last appointments were to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Council members could nominate one member to the commission.
The appointees are:
District 1 – J. W. Eady
District 2 – Wanda McNeil
District 3 – Eric Hubbard
District 4 – Michelle Emanuel
District 5 – Lisa Wright.
Finalizing a previous agenda item, the council adopted an ordinance to collect hotel and motel taxes from the city’s 10 lodging facilities. The tax will be 5 percent of the fees charged to customers for lodging. City officials and members of the Discover DeKalb Convention and Visitors’ Bureau will lobby state lawmakers next year to increase the tax to 8 percent. This will be in line with what most cities in the county collect as well as what DeKalb County collects from hotels and motels in the unincorporated areas. - 8/8/17
Mayor Jason Lary and the City Council will vote on a final hotel/motel tax ordinance at their next scheduled meeting on Monday. The ordinance will assess a 5 percent tax to Stonecrest’s 10 hotels and motels for fees charged to their guest for lodging. The tax is 3 percent lower than hotel operators have been paying to DeKalb County.
On June 19, 2017, the mayor and council approved an 8 percent hotel/motel tax but later found that they had to rescind the ordinance until city officials get the approval of the State Legislature to charge 8 percent. Once approved the additional 3 percent will go toward promoting and marketing tourism, conventions and trade shows in accordance with the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. Georgia law only allows for 3 percent of the tax to go into the city’s General Fund. Taxes collected in excess of 3 percent must go into tourism and trade promotion. The city has not established a visitors’ bureau; therefore, the additional tax will go to the Discover DeKalb Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. The DCVB serves the entire county but will designate marketing and tourism funds for Stonecrest that match the amount of taxes collected. The tax shortfall for Stonecrest could be as much as $100,000 for the remainder of the year. Mayor and council are confident that they can persuade legislators to raise the taxes to 8 percent. According to James Tsismanakis, DDCVB director, 11 out of DeKalb’s 14 cities have hotels or motels. Of those 11 cities, Doraville and Decatur are the only ones that charge less that the standard 8 percent tax.
City funding won’t just stop with the Hotel/Motel Tax. Recently, the mayor and council voted to approve a Tax Anticipation Note for $579,000. IberiaBank Corporation and city officials finalized the note, Tuesday and the funds will be available today with the stipulation that all money borrowed must be paid back before the end of the each calendar year in which it was borrowed. The Tax Anticipation Note is designed to help fund the city until tax revenues begin to come in, according to City Attorney Tom Kurrie. Attached to the note is a $1 million line of credit which can be paid back over time.
Three new Ford Fusions, one Ford 150 and a Ford Transit Connect are the initial vehicles in the city’s fleet. The vehicles will be used for code enforcement, building inspection, and administrative duties. As the fleet grows so is the staff that will occupy them. Lillian Lowe and Leah Rodriguez joined the Stonecrest staff as administrative assistants. Josh Roth is the city’s new building official and William Kirkland is the city’s first code enforcement officer. - 8/3/17
City Manager, Michael Harris and Account Manager Audrey Mays deposited the city’s first check on Monday, July 17, 2017, immediately after the Stonecrest mayor and council voted to use BB&T for the city’s banking services.
In the same council meeting, Mayor Jason Lary appointed Michael Sheridan as Stonecrest’s first municipal judge and Jonathan Weintraub as the judge pro tem; however, the city council chose to defer these appointments until the August 7th council meeting.
“These are the two best qualified people,” Lary said. “These attorneys would serve the city best as judges. They have been working in the DeKalb County for years,” Lary added. Sheridan, a graduate of Howard University, has practiced law for 11 years. He is a partner in the law firm, Davis & Sheridan, LLC. Jonathan Weintraub is a former county attorney with DeKalb County government. His education background includes degrees from Syracuse University, Georgia State University and a Juris Doctorate from Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. Weintraub has more than 38 years of government, local, and municipal law experience.
In other city business, the mayor and council agreed on a resolution for membership in the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Association. Membership allows the city to purchase general and property liability insurance as well as insurance for city document errors and omissions. The annual premium will cost the city $14, 050 which will be prorated for 2017. The mayor and council also voted unanimously to accept a new city logo and to approve the use of QS/1 Governmental financial software to help the tracking of business licenses and budgeting. Council and mayor also voted the appointment of Grey, Pannell and Woodward, LLP as the special counsel for the city’s tax anticipation note.
Topping off the week’s activities was the arrival of the first two city vehicles. The 2017 Ford Focus models arrived Friday and will be used for city administrative services and initial code enforcement. - 7/21/17
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