Melissa Mular

Candidate for Sandy Springs City Council, District 3


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1) What are three issues affecting your district that you would tackle as a councilmember?

Public Safety: To maintain and enhance our public safety posture, I will advocate for a technology plan that supports today’s mission critical equipment and takes advantage of cutting-edge crime prevention technology. 

Living Density: I will balance approving density growth with resident input and encourage developer housing options that limit significant increased density and promote home ownership options for people to grow or downsize into. 

Communication: Communicating with our citizens enhances awareness and promotes transparency of how the City serves them. I will deliver a newsletter to inform and give citizens options to engage with me, hold community meetings to receive citizen input, and engage with HOAs and community Groups as requested. Informed citizens engage more, and more engaged citizens leads to an overall more effective community. 

2) How would you encourage more housing diversity and affordability in Sandy Springs, especially for city workers and others who can’t afford to live where they work?

Housing affordability is a complex, nationwide issue. Sandy Springs is over 50 percent rental households with the majority living in multi-family housing. Future development must balance growth with resident input and infrastructure upgrades must be considered to support development.  

Encourage developers to explore alternate housing ownership options, like the “missing middle” of the plexes — duplexes, triplexes, quadraplexes — as a means to add housing without adding significant density. This strategy was used to mitigate the housing shortage after the end of World War II and has been overlooked for many years.

Explore feasibility of incentives for employers that implement employer-based housing benefits for employees without increasing the City’s budget. Employees would have money to apply toward housing and it would enable talent acquisition and retention for employers.

3) How would you encourage redevelopment in Sandy Springs, such as in the city’s North End, while balancing issues of displacement for lower-income residents?

The free market drives the returns on any development and those returns drive the investment and what gets built to achieve financial goals. Creative programs that provide incentives and balance the goals of the returns and the creation of housing affordability should be explored. Subject matter experts could help develop solutions.

4) How would you work to improve equity and diversity in Sandy Springs?

The mayor commissioned a Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce in February 2021, and it should continue to identify district and city-wide opportunities. From a city government perspective, there should be diversity and inclusion and anti-bullying training for all city staff, city council and the mayor.  

5) If city finances were to decline, would you consider a tax hike or would you rather cut city services and programs?

The City’s Charter mandates that the millage rate — the tax portion charged by the city (4.731), “shall not exceed 4.731 unless a higher limit is recommended by resolution of the city council and approved by the qualified voters of the City of Sandy Springs.”   

Raising taxes on residents should be a last resort. Many options exist to offset revenue decline without increasing residents’ taxes. The cause of the revenue decline and the expected duration across budget-years first needs to be determined and mitigations put in place. Is it temporary or ongoing? Are there reserves or excess funds in other areas to cover the gap? Can operational efficiencies be implemented to save costs without impacting services? Data, analysis, and resident input are necessary to arrive at the best solution.

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.