Milton Councilman cited for code of ethics violations

Disagreement over speed radar signs in a north Fulton neighborhood may lead to an official reprimand of a Milton city councilman.

On Tuesday, a Milton ethics panel found Councilman Paul Moore had a conflict of interest during a meeting in May when officials discussed partially reimbursing the homeowners association where he resides for the cost of controversial speed radar signs that had been installed.

The ethics panel found that Moore violated the code of ethics for municipal service and the code of ethics for city officials.

The three-member panel is recommending that City Council issue a written reprimand. A statement from the panel reads that the councilman had an interest in the outcome of the May discussion on approving the payment.

A Milton statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the matter will be addressed during a September council meeting.

“I believe I’ve always done a good job to represent the voice of the community and I will continue to do that,” Moore told the AJC. “I don’t believe I was wrong. I am going to explore an appeal but I don’t know ... at the moment what the censure means.”

Residents in a section of the upscale White Columns community in Milton say speeding along their streets is a problem, but many including Moore oppose four digital speed radar signs located in the golf club section of the neighborhood. The homeowners association paid about $15,000 for signs.

Moore has lived in White Columns, a neighborhood of 434 homes, for 24 years.

There are a total of 220 homes in the golf club section of the community. Most members of the golf country club live outside of the neighborhood and are the cause of much of the speeding traffic, Moore and others say.

During the May meeting, City Council deferred a decision to pay the White Columns Homeowners Association $6,853 as partial payment for the signs, following a motion by Moore. He suggested that the digital signs be turned off or removed until an updated speed study shows a need for them.

Milton approved the payment during a regular council meeting on Aug. 1, in which Moore excused himself.

Residents have complained to council members that they weren’t allowed to weigh in on whether the signs should be installed. Residents have said the signs are “unsightly,” “obtrusive” and don’t fit the standards of the neighborhood which could impact home values.

The ethics panel’s statement said that the members “Believe (Moore) either knew or should have known of the potential conflict of interest,” and that he knew that some residents believed the signs “could adversely affect home values.”

The ethics complaint was filed by White Columns homeowners association president Tony Palazzo, independent of the organization.

“Ultimately what matters to me personally is the protection of the children and the families that live along White Columns Drive,” Palazzo said. “...I felt like what occurred at that (May) meeting was inappropriate. (The ethics complaint) wasn’t something that I wanted to do but unfortunately I felt it was something that had to be done.”

Moore has served on City Council for three years. He previously served on the planning commission for 13 years and was chairman for nine of those years.