January 19, 2011 Minutes



JANUARY 19, 2011

7:30 PM




Mayor Greg Zarus

Mayor Pro-Tem Kathie deNobriga

Council Member Greg Creech

Council Member Bitsy Pitts

Council Member Cindy Diamond


City Clerk Valerie Caldwell

Public Works Director Phil Howland


Council Member Melanie Hammet


The meeting was called to order by Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga at 7:32 pm.


The pledge of allegiance was led by Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga.


Council read a resolution recognizing and honoring Paul Jasionowski. Upon motion by Council Member Pitts and second by Council Member Diamond, the resolution was unanimously approved as presented.


Mayor Pro-Tem passed the gavel to Mayor Zarus who chaired the remainder of the meeting.

Mayor Zarus announced that Pine Lake did not prevail with the proposed Senior Assisted Living Project.

Mayor Zarus also reported that the Public Works Director would be primarily focusing on the Capital Improvement budgets and the lake dredging project for the foreseeable future.


Minutes of the December 13, 2010 meeting were approved 3-0-1 on motion by Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga, and second by Council Member Creech. Council Member Diamond abstained as she was not in attendance at the December 13, 2010 meeting.


The following amendments to the agenda were unanimously approved upon motion by Council Member Pitts and second by Council Member Creech.

Addition of Scott and Crystal Harrison to discuss FEMA buyout of their home on Spruce Drive added as Item # 1 Unfinished Business as requested by Council Member Diamond

Motion to table (a) MARTA Memorandum of Understanding, (b) 2-011 Capital Improvements Budgets, and (c) Award of bid for Lake Dredging as requested by Public Works Director

Motion to add consideration of adoption of Stormwater Utility Budget to unfinished business, as requested by City Clerk

Motion to add appointment of David Brachman and Jean Bordeaux to the Architectural Review Board as requested by Mayor Zarus


William Cotter read the following comments into the record:

“As a Pine Lake homeowner, I pay property taxes, which translates into operating funds for the Pine Lake government. Also, I am a registered voter, and I believe I may have voted for at least one of you, but I won’t say which one, and I voted for the Bond Issue a few years ago, which I will refer to again later. As if the minutes of the December 13, 2010 council meeting were not disturbing enough, with the auditor threatening to slander the city for non-payment and indicating he had “performed work that ethically he should not be doing as the city auditor.” Worse even than all that were the sections of the minutes titled “Public Comments,” which reported the public comments as “None.” I am here to do my civic duty to prevent that from happening again tonight.

According to the City Auditor’s report for the year ended December 31, 2009, the government of Pine Lake materially violated the City Charter, which is what some people call a law, as well as violating Georgia Law concerning the Pine Lake Budget Process. The government of Pine Lake materially violated a Bond Document, a legal contract with a lending institution, not to mention the sacred trust of the voters who went to the polls and authorized the Bond Issue. The government of Pine Lake materially violated Internal Revenue Service Codes and regulations, subjecting the city to additional liability for Social Security and Medicare Taxes, 15.3%, I believe, of the sum involved. These violations of what is commonly considered as the law are on top of missing or inadequate documentation for expenses charged to the city’s credit card, checks written with inadequate and missing documentation, and checks written in violation of payroll policies. This mismanagement of city finances has cost, according to my approximate calculation, a total of $81,000. Add to that another $10,000, more money out the door, the insurance deductible from a lawsuit against Pine Lake as a result of mismanagement of hiring practices in the Police Department. So the total actually exceeds $91,000, acknowledged mismanagement in Pine Lake City government. $91,000. This incompetence and mismanagement is a problem which cannot be solved by annexation, or building the Panama Canal in Pine Lake, or searching for low hanging fruit on the grant-money tree. Cheerleading and wishful thinking will never triumph over bookkeeping.”

Dennis Rotch questioned the statements contained in the 2009 audit as prepared by Auditor Cohen Colvard. He stated that there were 17 pages of outstanding audit findings and informed Council he had transmitted a copy of these findings to the previous city clerk. He reported the findings went back to 2007 without correction. One particular finding referred to the city clerk not having the qualifications to submit financial reports. He questioned why Council had hired someone that was not qualified and then “kept them on for years.” Mr. Rotch expressed concern for the property values in Pine Lake. He cited experiences of individuals receiving either incorrect or no information from City Hall regarding zoning and setback issues. Mr. Rotch also stated that there was a flaw in the canopy of the Clubhouse causing it to leak in 8 places. He stated this type of “incompetence is not good” and that he had seen it “repeated over and over.” He then opined the playground was “a perfect example of non-feasence.” He then addressed the City’s insurance stating that Pine Lake has displayed a pattern of risk assumption, and currently has insurance rates and a deductible that are “outrageous.” He encouraged Council to “look at things through the lens of liability.” Mayor Zarus stated that the city’s insurance company (GIRMA) has representatives that conduct regular site visits to assess risks and presents a report of findings to the City. Mr. Rotch requested a copy of the GIRMA Risk Assessment Report, as well as all information and correspondence, including e-mail, between the City and the City’s insurance carrier, GIRMA. He also requested to see certain ethics codes associated with the City’s designation as “City of Ethics.” Mayor Zarus directed him to the City’s on-line code with Municipal Code Corporation for that information.


Public Works Director Howland reported that his efforts would be focused on securing funding for the dredging of the lake and sidewalk project. He reported the streets had all been cleared following the recent weather event. Lastly, he reported that he would be physically working out in the field with the Public Works crew on Fridays, stating that their next initiative would be removal of the large tree from the wetlands area.

Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga questioned the time line for the dredging of the lake. Mr. Howland stated he would like to begin draining now for completion by the end of February; however, funding from the county had not yet been secured. A discussion ensued regarding the timing of the project.

Council Member Creech emphatically voiced his opposition for draining of the lake during the summer months and until DeKalb County has committed to the project. It was the consensus that no action to drain the lake would commence until project funding was in place.

Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga requested an update on the status of the Risk Assessment Report in late February or early March.

Council Member Creech suggested organization of a clean up along the berm for February/March.

As Chief Y’Hudah-Green was not present, Sergeant Palms presented the monthly statistical report and addressed questions. Sergeant Palms stated that Pine Lake was a safer place by virtue of monitoring the traffic on Rockbridge Road and routine neighborhood patrols. He stated that a visible presence helps to deter crime.


Scott and Crystal Harrison

Mr. and Ms. Harrison provided Council with an overview of the difficulties they had encountered regarding submission of paperwork for various programs assisting flood victims. Ms. Harrison indicated that the necessary pre-application had not been timely submitted by the Flood Plain Administrator, and the deadline had passed. She stated that in her most recent discussions with representatives from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) she had been informed that the City would need to participate in the application process. Ms. Harrison stated that they were requesting that assistance from the City. Following a brief discussion, it was decided that Ms. Harrison would e-mail the application to the Mayor and the matter would be further discussed at a future meeting.

Resolution Recognizing Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Following a reading of the resolution, motion to approve was made by Council Member Creech and second by Council Member Pitts. The resolution was unanimously approved. Council Member Creech extended his gratitude to Sue Clites, who originated the Neighborhood Watch Committee over ten years ago. He also thanked Faye Ridling who then picked it up, and new leaders Tim Neeland and George Chiti. Council Member Creech was also recognized for his service as co-chair with Faye Ridling.

2011 Stormwater Budget

Following a review of the proposed Stormwater Budget for 2011, motion to approve was made by Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga. The motion was seconded by Council Member Creech and was approved.


Resolution calling for Election and Setting Qualifying Fees

As required by State law, a resolution calling for the municipal election of Mayor and Council Posts 1 and 2, and the setting of qualifying fees was presented. Motion to approve was made by Council Member Diamond, seconded by Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga and was unanimously approved.

Appointment of City Auditor

Council Member Diamond stated she and the City Clerk had met with James Whitaker and reported that he specialized in governmental auditing, had reviewed the City’s 2009 audit and felt he could prepare an audit for the City by the end of May, within the city’s budget. Mayor Zarus stated he had personally checked Mr. Whitaker’s references and would request Council approve his recommendation to appoint Mr. Whitaker as the City Auditor. Motion to approve was made by Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga, seconded by Council Member Pitts and was unanimously approved.

Budget Amendments

The City Clerk presented end of year budget line item adjustments. Following review of the proposed adjustments, motion to approve was made by Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga, second by Council Member Diamond and was unanimously approved.

Appointment to ARB

Motion to appoint Jean Bordeaux and David Brachman to ARB was made by Council Member Diamond. This motion was seconded by Council Member Pitts and was unanimously approved.




Mayor Pro-Tem deNobriga stated she had sent out an e-mail regarding Town Hall meeting dates but had received no response. She asked if there were any conflicts. She then stated that although funding had been allocated for website design, the basic architecture was in place and the site could be reworked to achieve the desired results. Council Member Creech stated some cosmetic work had already been done and some of the issues had been resolved. The webmaster was available on an hourly basis to assist and provide training for city staff utilizing the website. Also discussed were the Micro enterprise process, and the possibility of acquiring a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for funding assistance. Possible ideas include a writer center and community market/coffee house/craft market. The Mayor also presented an idea proposed for recycling of fats, oil and grease (FOG) whereby for a $10 start fee up a plastic bucket would be provided for individuals to dispose of their FOG. These would then be picked up for recycling into bio fuel. The possibility of inclusion of office space in the micro enterprise was explored. Council Member Diamond then questioned if there had been further consideration of the previous auditor’s demand for payment. The various issues with the 2009 audit were discussed at length. Mayor Zarus stated he would contact the city attorney regarding the issue. Council Member Pitts stated she had e-mailed revised rules and regulations for facility rental but had received no response. Council Member Diamond stated that if the Beach House is rented, restroom access had to be provided for people at the lake.

Motion to go into Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter was made by Council Member Pitts, seconded by Council Member Diamond and was unanimously approved. Present in Executive Session were Mayor and Council Members present at the meeting, and the City Clerk. Motion to adjourn Executive Session was made by Council Member Diamond, second by Council Member Creech and unanimously approved. No action was taken in Executive Session.


Motion to adjourn was made by Council Member Pitts, seconded by Council Member Creech and was unanimously approved. 10:18 pm.



Valerie Caldwell, City Clerk