Galambos spoke at the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast meeting Monday at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North hotel in Sandy Springs.
“The water situation has been one of the most frustrating items for me since our city began because we continue to pay 21 percent more for every gallon of water than the people do in Atlanta,” she said. “Atlanta charges us a surcharge of 21 percent on every gallon of water.”
Galambos said she met with former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, as well as current Mayor Kasim Reed to try to compromise, but to no avail.
Atlanta merged its water and sewer services in 2005.
“That made good sense from their viewpoint,” said Galambos. “What’s wrong with it is, it means our water money is being used for their sewer system. We’re on Fulton County’s sewer system, so we’re paying for two sewer systems.”
Galambos said that District 51 State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, also Sandy Springs’ city attorney, is co-sponsoring House Bill 41, which will ensure that cities will not be allowed to pass down differential utility rates without negotiating a rate with the city paying for the water.
“I think this will bring them to the table,” said Galambos. “We’re watching House Bill 41 with great interest.”
The mayor also reported that the city added 6,000 new jobs to the area in the past year. Most of them, Galambos said, were IT jobs, along with financial services and insurance jobs.
She said city revenue was coming back up. In 2008, the city brought in $85 million in revenue. In 2011 it collected only $77 million. This, she said, was due to a drop in property tax rates based on the housing crash.
Last year, the city budgeted for $83 million in revenue, but this year only budgeted for $79 million.
However, Galambos said the city wasn’t planning to raise property taxes to help pay for the new downtown.
“We are not borrowing any money to pay for land for the city center,” she said. “When it comes to building the center, we may have to go to the bond market.”
Galambos said to look in the coming months for demolition of the old Target building, which the city owns and likely will become the site for the new City Hall.
Attendee Tamara Carrera, executive director of the Community Assistance Center, expressed excitement for the new downtown area.
“I’m always amazed by Eva because she has such a great, incredible vision,” she said. “She has a lot of savvy and experience, and I think the city center is going to be great.”