$68M bond going to voters
by Rachel Miller
July 11, 2013 12:17 AM | 2895 views | 3 3 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The City Council nearly doubled a proposed urban redevelopment bond from $35 million to $68 million after a final public hearing on the issue Wednesday.

The vote was 5-2 with Councilmen Philip Goldstein and Anthony Coleman opposed.

Goldstein said he wanted to keep the bond at the $35 million mark because that amount has a better chance of being approved by voters.

Coleman said at a previous meeting that the redevelopment projects are already a gamble by the city, and increasing the amount raises the risk.

The entire $33 million increase is designated for the Franklin Road corridor, bringing that area’s total to $64 million, with Whitlock Avenue streetscape improvements remaining at $4 million.

One resident spoke in favor of the redevelopment bond. Ed

Bentley, of Whitlock Drive, said the plan and vision for the area was good.

Bentley said the bond will increase taxes, but if the redevelopment of the area works, the tax revenue will also increase. Bentley did advise the council not to dilute the impact of the $68 million bond by spreading out the funds.

There was one speaker opposed to the redevelopment bond. Larry Wills, of Oakmont Drive, said the city’s goal is to expel undesirable people “by taking away the place they live.”

Wills said he did not want his tax money to be used to “wage class warfare.”

Actual amounts

Mayor Steve Tumlin wanted the City Council to include making Marietta’s downtown railroad crossings quiet zones, based on recommendations by the city’s Vision 20/20 Committee.

Tumlin asked Doug Haynie, the city’s attorney, if the $3.4 million cost could be incorporated into the existing list of bond projects.

Haynie said none of the city’s seven crossings are in designated urban redevelopment areas, so the entire bond language would have to be revised to add an additional project.

Although one speaker did ask for the council to stop trains whistling through town, the council dropped the issue.

The jump in the bond amount was revealed last month after Tumlin released information from the city’s bond adviser, PFM Group.

Consultants from that firm told Tumlin that an increase of two mills would raise $68 million, not the $35 million originally projected by city staff.

Wills said the miscalculation was “almost unforgivable” and questioned what other mistakes are being made.

The millage rate would also pay the $68,000 fees for the bond’s financial consultant, Dianne McNabb of PFM Group, and $100,000 in fees for the bond attorney, Teresa Finister of Murray, Barnes, Finister.

Both of these fees were approved by the council Wednesday.

All of the expenses related to the bond, as well as how the development projects are managed, are contingent on voter approval Nov. 5.

Project management

The vast majority of the $68 million bond would be spent on property acquisition, demolition of blighted businesses and road improvements.

On Wednesday, the council approved creating an economic development manager position to administer the urban redevelopment plan for the city.

The consultant, paid for with money from the bond, would create a master plan for the properties in the designated area.

Brian Binzer, the city’s development services director, said the council’s first step is to advertise the qualifications for the position.

He said it could take several months to fill the spot, which could be by a representative from a number of Atlanta-area development companies that has experience working with local government.

The person would not be on city staff and the salary has not been set.

“This is new territory for the city working in a private-public partnership,” Binzer said.

Binzer said the manager would advise the city on which properties to make offers on, as well as how best to market and develop the cleared space.

This would include navigating through any rezoning procedures to get new businesses in the vacant lots.

Relocation authority

The council also approved an agreement with the Marietta Housing Authority to manage properties that would be purchased by the city with the $68 million bond.

The Housing Authority would be charged with maintaining and renting the apartment complexes during the phases of the redevelopment on Franklin Road.

Binzer said the process would be similar to other times the city has acquired residences that have tenants, like when the city demolished Preston Chase apartments on Franklin Road in 2010 using funds from the 2009 parks bond.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
A Taxpayer
July 11, 2013
"Bentley said the bond will increase taxes" -- oh really? That's all I need to know! I'm voting NOOOOOOO
July 11, 2013
You'd be better off just seizing the money from people who earn it and flushing it down the toilet than supporting this obviously flawed plan. Just follow the money trail to see why this bit of government insanity is being pushed.
To Mr.Willis
July 11, 2013
Mr. Willis: Do you realize there are drug deals, people being killed from those deals and prostitution going on all over Franklin Road? You would prefer drugs, gangs, shootings and prostitution? Are you kidding me? This is the problem with Americans. Americans want the government and law enforcement to solve issues with out raising taxes and at the same time pandering to those who are sucking our welfare system dry. Please do the right thing and clean up Franklin Road! I remember the days when it was a great area over 20 years ago!
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