The Hoschton City Council signed a resolution during its meeting Monday that approves the city’s proposed charter, which will be sent to Sen. Frank Ginn for consideration in the General Assembly next year. The charter must be passed as legislation and then signed by Gov. Nathan Deal before it is approved and goes into effect.
Key changes to the charter, which all the council members signed, include: updates to the city’s boundaries; a way for the city to safeguard some of its future sewer system expenses; and a decrease in the number of council members.
The number of members on the city council will drop from six to four by 2015, according to the new charter. If approved, the permanent changes to Hoschton’s council would begin after next year’s November election with one post — Post 3 — dropping off when the term naturally ends.
Another council position — Post 6 — will expire when the term ends in 2015, according to the proposal. In the amended charter, the mayor will continue to cast tie-breaking votes only as the fifth elected official.
During the council’s meeting Nov. 27, Councilwoman Sandie F. Romer asked city attorney Thomas Mitchell about spreading out the representation into districts or wards. She said several people expressed concern to her about one neighborhood possibly dominating the elected body.
Mitchell said the process for such a change was possible but more involved than just changing the number of council members, as the revised charter will do, if approved.
“You can’t just draw the lines yourself,” Mitchell said. “You would have to have a consultant look at the census data and the tracts.”
Such a change also would require a significant cost and be subject to certain deadlines and approvals by the Department of Justice, Mitchell said.
In addition to the change in the number of council members, the charter also spells out how the city can “provide for the collection of special assessments to cover the costs of providing such plant or plants and systems” for sewer services.
The addition of this language is consistent with other cities’ charters, Mitchell said.
For Hoschton, the provision comes as a result of costly sewer upgrades and improvements the city undertook for new housing developments that failed in the wake of the economic collapse. The fallout from the expense of the sewer upgrades is something Hoschton continues to deal with financially.
Mitchell told the council that the addition of the clause in the charter alone will not create any assessment, which must be passed by council, Mitchell said. The revision just creates a way for the council to make that decision.
Additionally, Hoschton’s revised charter updates the city’s boundaries to include annexations in recent years.
The Hampton Homes property, located off Maddox Road and Ga. 124, will not be included as part of Hoschton’s city limits. The area was the subject of a previous legal dispute between Braselton and Hoschton.
In other business, the council:
•passed the excise tax ordinance on energy used in manufacturing. The ordinance followed the state’s elimination of the energy tax earlier this year, which included a provision that local governments could make up the lost revenue by collecting a tax on energy used in manufacturing.
•approved a zoning variance for 12 Serenity Court, which decreases the setback to 12 feet, so the owner Raleigh Pasterick, can build a room onto the house occupied by his tenants. Pasterick owns the neighboring property.
•approved a new one-year lease for $330 per month, with a one-year option, for Little Hooties restaurant at 73 City Square, next to city hall. City clerk Cindy George reported that the restaurant is in compliance with all the necessary insurance.