They have said they were not in the business of paying themselves, but city officials from Alpharetta bought themselves some pretty good press Tuesday.
In a modest ceremony without an oversized check or maple podium, Alpharetta City Councilman Jim Paine donated the city’s $750 watering fine to the Lake Lanier Association.
All was in the name of water conservation, Paine said.
"The city of Alpharetta ... is giving you this money to help you promote your efforts in water conservation and clean water," Paine said.
"Everything you do here in Lake Lanier affects us downstream."
Over an October weekend, the Alpharetta City Council received two fines, one for $250 and another for $500, for having a sprinkler on at City Hall.
The fines came only days after Alpharetta passed one of the most strict watering bans in the state, and completely eliminated watering for newly installed landscapes.
When they returned to work on Monday, Alpharetta city officials were surprised to find they had been violating their own rules, Paine said.
After the city had received a warning for its lawn watering on Tuesday, Oct. 16, city officials had a landscaper come turn off the sprinkler valves. However, one went unnoticed.
"There was one faddled sprinkler that was on a different line that didn’t get turned off," Paine said. "It was a mistake."
Originally, Alpharetta’s Assistant City Administrator Robert Rokovitz said that the City Council had no intention of paying the fine.
"We’re not in the business of paying ourselves," Rokovitz has said.
But now, Alpharetta has anted up, and all the council members made an equal donation, totaling the amount of the fine, to the Lake Lanier Association.
"If anyone (deserves) a few extra bucks, the Lanier association could put it to good use," Paine said.
The donation was a good way for the elected officials of Alpharetta to make a bad situation better, said Vicki Barnhorst, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association.
"This is making lemonade out of it. This is really good. It’s a good story now," Barnhorst said.
Jackie Joseph, president of the Lake Lanier Association, said this was the first time she had seen city officials be proactive and rectify a mistake.
"We’re very, very thankful, and we will certainly put it to good use," Joseph said.