High school sophomore Sanjana Gopu, 15, was applauded after telling councilmembers Byers’ settlement sends a signal to young men that they can be rewarded for poor treatment of women and minorities.
“It’s not just about him,” she said of Byers. “It’s what it says to our community. I am 15 and I shouldn’t be here today ... I just hope all of you understand the magnitude of this issue and it doesn’t affect just him. It affects everyone around us; including me … including every woman out there; including every person of color, everyone.”
Residents accused council members of raising property taxes to pay off Byers and blamed City Manager Ed Densmore. The Johns Creek property tax rate will increase more than 12% for fiscal year 2020. Councilwoman Erin Elwood later pointed out that the increase was set in September and remains lower than other north Fulton cities. According to the city, the tax increase means a homestead property with an estimated value of $300,000 would see an increase in its annual property tax bill of about $53.
Johns Creek has not explained how they arrived at the amount for Byers’ settlement. His attorney Darryl B. Cohen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Friday, that the settlement reflects Byers’ credible standing in the police department. The agreement was a compromise on any disputes between Byers and the city of Johns Creek, according to the language of the settlement. Byers agreed to confidentiality as well as to not sue the city unless there is a breach of the agreement.
Mayor Mike Bodker said Monday night that he would consult city attorneys and try to offer more insight into the $325,000 settlement to Byers without violating the agreement between the former chief and the city.