About 50 citizens sat through the almost three-hour meeting. Many spoke impromptu, cautioning city leaders to carefully tend to their tax dollars, which, last year, went to funding the debt-ridden, city-owned Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History and the pensions of city council members.
Sam Paglioni, a private financial adviser who introduced himself as, “just a concerned citizen,” spoke three times, and each time received a standing ovation from fellow Kennesaw residents in the audience.
He came prepared with a binder filled with the city’s financial reports from the last few years, and cautioned the council members to carefully look through the numbers before voting to approve the 2014 budget.
After much discussion, and assurances by city Finance Director Gina Auld, the council approved the 2014 budget, with council members Cris Eaton-Welsh and Bruce Jenkins voting against the budget, and Tim Killingsworth, Matthew Riedemann and Jeff Duckett voting in favor.
This is the same split that has been seen in the council over the past couple of months on almost every issue of importance — Killingsworth, Riedemann and Duckett on one side and Jenkins and Welsh on the other.
“The more I listened to what Mr. Paglioni had to say, I realized, at some point, we have to say, ‘Stop. We need to address this right now,’” said Welsh, of the lack of current funds in place to pay for future retirees’ health care, and lack of income from the city’s business ventures, including the museum and the Smith-Gilbert Gardens, both of which cost the city more to run than they generate in revenue.
World War II vet honored
The council also proclaimed Sept. 20 to be Ted Wolfe Day.
The 83-year-old former chief ranger at Kennesaw Mountain from 1971 to 1982 is also a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and is an honored member of the United States Marine Corps.
“Today is a very special day, it’s nice to do that for me, and my wife,” Wolfe said.
Brewery expansion OK’d
The council also voted 4-0 to approve the expansion of Burnt Hickory Brewery, a brewery on Moon Station Court just north of downtown Kennesaw, which wants to add on a small boiler room.
Mayor Pro tem Jeff Duckett ran the meeting Monday night because Mayor Mark Mathews was attending the Cobb Chamber of Commerce “fly-in” in Washington, D.C., with county chairman Tim Lee and other county leaders.
Duckett did not vote on the brewery’s expansion, because the mayor pro tem only votes to break a tie when he is standing in for the mayor, according to the city code.
Owner Scott Hedeen promised council members that he would plan to plant a number of evergreen bushes behind the new addition to provide a visual buffer to the brewery’s neighbor, Greg Wick.
Wick asked the council members not to allow for the addition, as he does not want to see the nature-filled buffer between the brewery on Moon Station Court and his property grow any smaller.