Sandy Springs residents and businesses will soon have the chance to have their addresses recognized as Sandy Springs instead of Atlanta.
The U.S. Postal Service agreed to recognize seven ZIP codes – 30328, 30350, 30319, 30327, 30338, 30339 and 30342 – as Sandy Springs if approved by a majority of residents as part of a survey.
Michael Miles, a spokesman for the post office, said the city must “hold a public meeting with its residents and explain the pros and cons of an address line change.” He said once this is done, the U.S. Postal Service will send affected residents a survey which outlines the proposed changes. He said if 51 percent of the affected residential customers and 80 percent of the affected business customers support the proposed changes, the Postal Service will then work with the city to implement the change at an undetermined future date.
If a ZIP code crosses different city boundaries, only the portions of the ZIP code within the city limits of Sandy Springs will be affected by any changes.
“This will not prohibit a resident or business from continuing to use ‘Atlanta’ as their mailing address as ‘Atlanta’ will remain the secondary Preferred Last Line in the USPS addressing system,” Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said in a memo to City Council members.
At the City Council meeting on Oct. 18, the council gave Galambos the nod to write a letter to the Postal Service saying the city intends to move forward with the plan that would see the ZIP codes recognized as Sandy Springs. The council also gave Galambos a round of applause.
“They’re willing to change the default in their U.S. postal software for every address in Sandy Springs so every person with a Sandy Springs address, the first city it will show is Sandy Springs,” Galambos said.
Galambos said she actually got more than she wanted, never thinking the postal service would recognize addresses as Sandy Springs in ZIP codes that share space with other cities, like Atlanta.
One ZIP code is specifically exempt from being changed, 30092, because it is not under the purview of the Atlanta postmaster. Susan Jacobs-Meadows, who tells customers her Encore Boutique consignment store in the 30092 ZIP code is in Sandy Springs, said she isn’t surprised the ZIP code is excluded. Currently it is recognized as Norcross by the post office. She said her ZIP code was not part of the original petition to recognize the other ZIP codes as Sandy Springs.
“My reaction is the same as it was when I got a great little public relations flier that said, ‘Please help support us. Please be proud you’re in Sandy Springs’ and I said, ‘I would love to help support Sandy Springs if Sandy Springs would help support me’ and what I got from (the City Council) was a look of surprise,” Jacobs-Meadows said.
Galambos told the council that changing the seven ZIP codes over to Sandy Springs will have a couple of positive effects for residents and businesses.
“With Atlanta at an 8 percent sales tax rate, and Sandy Springs at 7 percent, an error in jurisdiction by the retailer could mean that a purchaser who resides in Sandy Springs might pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in taxes, which they do not owe,” Galambos told the City Council in the memo. “Another example would be the payment to the local jurisdiction of 911 fees. If the address for a phone located in Sandy Springs defaulted to Atlanta in the USPS software, it is possible that the fee, which should be remitted to Sandy Springs for the operation of the ChatComm 911 Center, could be sent to Atlanta.”
Councilman Chip Collins suggested that many businesses and residents could be entitled to a refund for taxes they incorrectly paid to Atlanta.
City Attorney Wendell Willard said any resident that thinks they paid the wrong amount of tax would have to file a claim with the state Department of Revenue.
In additional city business, the council received an update on the various contracts it uses to outsource basic city services, a practice that has garnered Sandy Springs national attention.
The report showed that the city has paid out 16.4 percent of the annual budget of its contracts as of Aug. 31. The largest annual budget – $3 million – goes to URS Corp which holds the city’s public works contract. To date the city has paid $514,161 to the company, according to documents provided by the city.
URS reports to the city that its bids received for the fiscal 2012 capital road paving and reconstruction projects were 20 percent less than the budget. It also reported developing a three-tier emergency on-call system for the public works staff that responded well to two water main breaks, road closures and other traffic and safety issues in the city.
Sandy Springs Public Works Director Kevin Walter said he wants the department to improve communication with council members so it can better understand the needs of their particular districts. Galambos said the department also needs to have a closer relationship with the city’s Community Development Department. Walter said he has regular meetings with Ed Shoucair, vice president of the Collaborative, which holds the city’s community development contract.
Shoucair said his department has done several things to speed up and streamline the city’s permitting process. The company’s written report to the council said the process “enables us to issue same-day permits for straightforward projects” that are not in environmentally sensitive areas.
The company also said it has expanded its weekly Thursday meetings between staff members and developers to tackle more complex projects.
The company also manages the city’s communications contract. City spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said the department completed an “internal communications audit,” which resulted in closing five of the city’s Twitter accounts in favor of one. The city also revamped its e-newsletter, Kraun said.
The new contractors took over much of the work that was done by the previous contractor CH2MHill. The new contracts began July 1.
Councilman John Paulson said the city contractors have made excellent progress in more than 90 days. He said getting to know the contractors better has given him better insight into whether or not they’re meeting the city’s expectations.
“Actually I’m very pleased, considering the large change in city management,” Paulson said. “It looks to me like everyone is clicking along very nicely.”
The following is a list of what the city has paid on its contracts for basic services as of Aug. 31
Government service: Call center
Contractor: CH2M Hill
Paid to date: $127,542
Annual budget: $763,000
Contractor highlight: Reduced call center incoming call volume for courts by 60 percent.
Government service: Communications
Contractor: the Collaborative
Paid to date: $73,315
Annual budget: $594,413
Contractor highlight: Conducted an internal communications audit, reduced five of city’s Twitter feeds to one.
Government service: Community Development
Contractor: the Collaborative
Paid to date: $373,693
Annual budget: $2.2 million
Contractor highlight: Streamlined the city’s permitting process
Government service: IT services
Paid to date: $173,473
Annual budget: $1 million
Contractor highlight: Set up and configured new “state of the art” hardware for city’s technology infrastructure and disaster recovery site.
Government service: Court services
Contractor: Jacobs Engineering Group
Paid to date: $132,373
Annual budget: $794,240
Contractor highlight: Remodeled court area to better serve customers
Government service: Parks and Recreation
Contractor: Jacobs Engineering Group
Paid to date: $131,768
Annual budget: $790,608
Contractor highlight: Reorganization of the department’s gymnastics program and employees
Government service: Finance
Contractor: Severn Trent Services
Paid to date: $265,530
Annual budget: $1.6 million
Contractor highlight: Reorganized positions and work flow to better meet the needs of city
Government service: Public works
Contractor: URS Corp
Paid to date: $514,161
Annual budget: $3 million
Contractor highlight: Bids for Fiscal 2012 capital road repaving/reconstruction were 20 percent less than budget
Source: City of Sandy Springs