By Tenesha L. Curtis, contributor
Stone Mountain, GA — The Stone Mountain City Council discussed honorary street name policy, increasing salaries for police officers, and more at an in-person meeting on Tuesday, July 12.
In 2022 the police department had six resignations, two more than anticipated according to a memo attached to the July 12 agenda packet. The agenda item says “nearly every one” of them is leaving for a better paying job. City staff is recommending providing officers with a $10,000 retention bonus, increasing the starting pay for officers to $50,000 and raising the salaries of current personnel by 20%, among other proposals. The current starting salary of a police officer in Stone Mountain is $41,776.
Councilmember Gil Freeman asked that the police compensation vote be postponed until the July 19th session. He cited having unanswered questions and insufficient time in the past few weeks to review the information about the resolution.
Councilmember Chakira Johnson asked if there had been any changes to the pay increase resolution since it was last discussed. Councilmember Teresa Crowe and Interm City Manager Warren Hutmacher confirmed that there have not been.
“I think we have adequate information to move forward and we need to retain our police officers,” Crowe said, encouraging moving forward with voting.
Councilmember Gina Cox asked that other departments, such as public works, be included in the conversation about raising salaries. “I don’t feel that is the only department within city hall that deserves something.”
Freeman, Councilmember Clint Monroe, and Cox voted to postpone the vote on increasing police officer salaries. Johnson, Crowe, and Councilmember Shawnette Bryant voted not to postpone. Mayor Beverly Jones broke the tie my voting to postpone. Deciding to raise police compensation for Stone Mountain law enforcement officers is schedule to take place in a special session after the work session on July 19.
Regarding the honorary street name policy, Councilmember Johnson reminded the council of her request to allow public input for honoree requests. Johnson wants to make sure “anybody driving by or living in the affected area would be notified and able to attend that public meeting” regarding a sign’s approval.
“All I’m asking is that we make it very clear that council will be discussing this item, so we can get input from the public,” Johnson said. “I asked it at the work session as well.”
Councilmember Freeman said, “the council has already heard from the citizens.”
Councilmember Johnson noted that no name requests have been submitted, but she’d like the notification line in place for when the first request comes through.
“I don’t understand why any councilmember would be against that provision being included in any of our policies,” Johnson said.
Freeman said he didn’t know of any past raising of monuments or naming of parks in which the public was allowed time to provide feedback.
“This seems to be a deliberate attempt to add a stumbling block,” Freeman said.
Interim City Manager Hutmacher attempted to further clarify by stating that the policy would be similar to what is done for zoning meetings.
The policy “doesn’t do anything other than just make people aware that you’re about to take a vote on something.”
“And the problem I have with that,” Freeman responded, “is we have no precedent for that.”
He expressed concern that allowing time for public input would give residents a chance to “kick rocks at the sign.”
The council voted to move the discussion of this issue to the next work session on Tuesday, July 19 with Councilmember Clint Monroe and Freeman voted against the postponement.
Edtior and Publisher Dan Whisenhunt contributed reporting to this story.
Editor’s note: To all local media outlets, if you didn’t attend this meeting,please have the professional integrity to credit our work if you’re going to write your own story “inspired” by our reporting.Sincerely, the Tucker Observer team.
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