Author: Joe Earle

City software could have caught billing problems, but it wasn’t turned on

By John Schaffner johnschaffner@reporternewspapers.net The city of Atlanta has computer software that, if it had been used, could have flagged many of the high water bills mailed to residents and could have spotted breeches of the city’s procurement policies and procedures. But that part of the software was not activated at the time those bills were calculated and those breeches were made, city officials said. It is turned on now, they said. The software is programmed to alert Watershed Management officials of any water bills that are four times the usual amount, said the department’s new interim commissioner, Dexter White. If that portion of the Oracle software had been turned on last year, the Watershed Management Department could have been forced to follow proper procedures when it bought $2.1 million worth of security equipment – a purchase city Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman called “the worst abuse” of procedure he’s seen. Department officials purchased the equipment through the use of “small purchase orders” in amounts totaling less than $20,000.  Using small purchase orders of less than $20,000 meant the purchases did not require approval from anyone above the department level and does not require going through the city’s Procurement Department, city officials said. Aman said that at one point, someone in the department was keying in five separate purchase orders of less than $20,000 every minute until the total...

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Sandy Springs to sue Fulton County over care of two ponds

By John Schaffner johnschaffner@reporternewspapers.net The city of Sandy Springs has decided to file legal action against Fulton County regarding the county’s lack of care and maintenance of two detention ponds at Arlington Memorial Cemetery that cause flooding of neighboring homes during heavy rains. City Attorney Wendell Willard and City Manager John McDonough said city officials have tried on at least two occasions to meet with county officials to resolve the issue, but the county has been “no-show” both times. McDonough said he is still trying to arrange a third meeting. In the meantime, the two detention ponds are in such disrepair, Willard said, that just about any substantial rainfall will cause water problems for homes along Colewood Way and Colewood Court and other neighborhoods along Colewood Creek. “We have had contact with the management of the county about this problem,” Willard told members of Sandy Springs City Council during the council’s Oct 5 meeting, “because, as you recall, the dedication of the easements was done to Fulton County in recorded documents quite a number of years ago,” Willard said the documents stated the county was responsible for the maintenance of the facility. “The two detention ponds over a period of time have deteriorated because of siltation as well as the outlets are not functioning properly,” Willard explained. “Unfortunate, we have not had any luck with trying to have a...

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Residents object to noise, street access for proposed restaurant

By John Schaffner About a dozen residents of the small, dead-end extension of Wieuca Road west of Roswell Road and of Lake Forrest Lane are raising a large number of objections to a proposed Pollo Tropical restaurant at 4402 Roswell Road. They appeared at the September meeting of the Neighborhood Planning Unit B Zoning Committee as the restaurant sought a special exception to allow for a drive-in facility in the first 100 feet of a parcel that abuts a residence. After almost an hour of discussion, the committee took no vote on the application at its Sept. 28 meeting, leaving the decision up to the full NPU-B board. The board is expected to consider that application on Oct. 5. Residents worried about noise from the drive-through speaker at the restaurant and traffic that would exit onto Wieuca Road in order to use the traffic signal for left turns onto northbound Roswell Road. The new restaurant is planned for the property where Lucy’s Market now is set up. It would stand next to a building that houses Batteries-Plus, U-Haul and Subway and is located on the corner of Roswell and Wieuca roads. The site, which totals 1.726 acres, is zoned C-1 for the front 1.128 acres and R-3 for the half-acre at the rear. The rear area bumps up against residences on the back and side property lines. Those residences...

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Sarah Smith to celebrate Walk to School Day Oct. 6

By John Schaffner Scores of students will be walking to school along with teachers, parents and pets Oct. 6 as Sarah Smith Elementary in Buckhead joins other schools to celebrate International Walk to School Day. Sarah Smith’s walkers will arrive at either the primary campus on Old Ivy Rd or the intermediate campus on Wieuca in time for the starting bell at 8 a.m. The students will be assisted by crossing guards, parent volunteers, and local police. Walkers will be awarded a sticker reading “I walked to school today!” International Walk to School Day is expected to include 5,000 schools in all 50 states. Walkers from the U.S. will join children and adults in 40 countries around the world. Walk to School Day events work to create safer routes for walking and bicycling and emphasize the importance of issues such as increasing physical activity among children, pedestrian safety, traffic congestion, concern for the environment and building connections between families, schools and the broader community. The event is being organized by the Sarah Smith Elementary PTA. For additional information, contact Carolyn Parks (404-431-6586) or Tammy Mitnitsky...

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Amnesty from late fees offered on some parking citations

By John Schaffner Unpaid parking tickets issued by the Atlanta Police Department from July 17 to Sept. 14 this year are being granted amnesty from late fees if paid by Dec. 31 because of a computer virus that affected the city of Atlanta’s Municipal Court systems this summer. The amnesty, however, does not apply to parking tickets issued by PARKatlanta. Tickets issued electronically by PARKatlanta’s enforcement personnel were not affected by the computer problems and PARKatlanta’s payment systems have been functioning properly. Late fees on PARKatlanta tickets remain valid and will continue to be enforced. The two types of parking tickets issued within the city can be checked on the city’s website at: http://atlantaga.gov/government/courts/sampleparkingtickets_11-19-09.aspx. PARKatlanta is a collaborative initiative led by the city’s Department of Public Works. For more information about the Atlanta’s parking enforcement program, please visit: www.PARKatlanta.org or call (404)...

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