Issues

Preserving Milton's "Sense of Place"

1. Refocus the city vision statement on values decided by citizens when the city was founded. Identify unique aspects of the city and what gives the city “a sense of place”.

2. Reject generic suburbia.

3. Offer grants for businesses that build on the city's sense of place and its new vision statement

4. Farms and estates need incentives not to sell and subdivide their land. While the majority of residents now live in subdivisions, greenspace is critical to the city’s vision, values, sense of place, and desirability as a place to live. The qualities are directly related to retaining high property values for all homes in the city for now and into the future. These incentives also decrease the number of new homes being built thus slowing and stopping growth.

Some people misunderstand that when I address the use of conservation tools. They believe I am resurrecting the use of conservation subdivisions. This is NOT true. I completely support one acre lot zoning. There are many other excellent conservation tools available like our Transfer of Development Rights program. With some changes, this program could be tremendous for our city. It can help shift density out of the center of the city AND it can prevent new development, if used effectively.

Quality of Life Based Growth Management

1. New limitations on growth based on quantification of cost to existing residents vs. the developer when new construction is being considered. Essentially, this type of law would provide residents with identifiable concrete reasons as to the capacity of infrastructure to support more homes. This will provide quantitative information to balance landowner property rights with the concerns of the broader community. For example, if infrastructure is over capacity, the law would trigger a temporary stop in new construction until accommodations can be made. Alternatively, if environmental factors are stressed by current residents, this would trigger a halt to building until these issues were resolved.

2. Traffic is a very significant problem in the city. However, much of the problem is caused by residents of neighboring communities passing through the city to get to and from work. Many of our main roads are county owned and maintained, so city options are limited. Helpful changes such as more roundabouts must be aggressively pursued, as well as new thoroughfares that circumvent residential areas.

3. Create new passive recreation opportunities. Numerous resident surveys have shown that new passive recreation options has been a top priority for years. The current Greenspace Bond and TSPLOST provide funds to create trails and obtain more natural areas to meet this need. Access to greenspace has proven to be significant to citizen quality of life and retention of property values.

4. Healthy communities have citizens spanning a range of different ages. We need to cultivate opportunities for empty nesters and the elderly to continue to live in Milton. These residents often have more time to volunteer and contribute to city activities. Furthermore, these households generally have fewer residents resulting in less cars on the road, less overcrowding in our schools and fewer stresses on our infrastructure.

Better Ethics and Transparency

1. Consider separating ethical guidance from legal guidance. This is strongly recommended by municipal ethics professionals

2. Provide extensive yearly training for city officials and appointees on ethics and transparency

3. Change term limits from three to two

4. Institute a better means of making decision-making processes more transparent in public meetings

5. Create an atmosphere designed to reduce conflict and focus on win-win solutions for all parties

6. Release joint statements after significant council votes summarizing considerations weighed to come to those decisions. These would include detailed information about city planning, legal issues and citizens' input

7. Ban text messaging by elected officials during all public meetings. Sunshine laws currently have not caught up to modern communication technologies. This rule is essential for transparency to the public. Electronic communications simply are not appropriate while officials are in public meetings

8. Retain of all electronic messages related to city business in the interest of transparency. including texts, instant messages and other more transient forms of communication

9. Provide financial disclosure of any business or investment holdings in the city by council members, accessible on the city's website

I have spent a significant amount of time studying ethics and problems municipalities face in this area. In my opinion, the biggest problem our city has is that our attorney is responsible for ethics advice and oversight. We all know that what legal is definitely not always ethical. We need a separate ethics entity with better training on the distinction between what is legal vs what is ethical. City officials have been told by our attorney to "trust themselves" on what feels right when they make these decisions. This is EXACTLY the problem. We cannot always see that what we are doing is unethical because other unconscious motives get in the way. This is why outside ethical guidance should always be part of a municipalities tools for helping with transparency.
Click on the webpage below to learn about:
Local Government Ethics Programs in a Nutshell
http://www.cityethics.org/publications/LGEP-Nutshell