Meet the candidates Q&A: Marietta mayor, city council
October 21, 2013 07:10 AM | 3066 views | 1 1 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
1) Every year, the City Council transfers millions in revenue — last year it was $11.5 million — from the Marietta Board of Lights and Water into the city’s general fund. The argument for doing this is that it keeps property taxes low. But almost every year, the City Council then raises the electric, water and sewer rates on city customers. Do you support this practice? Why or why not?

 

2) Would you ever vote to raise electric, sewer or water rates?

 

3) Would you ever vote to raise property taxes?

 

4) Do you support the city’s redevelopment effort in the Hedges-Gramling neighborhood, which included giving the Marietta Redevelopment Corp. millions to spend on buying up distressed properties?

 

5) Councilman Philip Goldstein recently referenced a future SPLOST will most likely be needed to finish Roswell Street streetscapes. Do you think Marietta needs another SPLOST?

 

6) Do you support term limits for mayor/council members or do you support a council member staying in office as long as, for example, Philip Goldstein, whose first term started in 1980?

 

7) DMDA Chairman Tom Browning has long wanted a parking deck off Mill Street for shoppers on the Square. He once suggested placing parking meters in front of parking spaces downtown and funneling the revenue to support such a deck. Is this a good or bad idea? Please explain.

 

8) Are you in favor of making the traffic around the square a one way roundabout, with possible roads built as bypasses around the Square? 

 

9) Will you vote in favor of the $68 million redevelopment bond?

*(i) is for incumbent


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MAYOR:
Charley Levinson

1. Yes

“Ultimately, though, it is more important that we move Marietta Power’s fuel mix toward renewables and improve water conservation.

2. Yes

“Only to defray unavoidable cost increases from providers and to pay for short-term transition costs as Marietta Power moves toward solar and wind energy sources …Coal is a dead end!”

3. No

“The sole exception, after exploring all other options first, would be to raise the millage in order to complete the Whitlock Avenue sidewalk project. As dear as Cobb County Transit expansion would be to many, I would not raise property taxes even for that.”

4. No

“The project has taken too long, cost too much, and has been overall Exhibit A in the case against municipal governments engaging in land speculation. Privatize the process from stem to stern and get out!”

5.  No

“It would have to be a pretty exceptional project list to change my mind. Roswell Street looks a world better already.”

6. No.

“I believe that robustly contested elections, which play out in an environment of equitably drawn ward maps, would do more to make city government responsive to people’s needs than arbitrary term limits.”

7. No

“The key to the Square’s future success which means protecting its small-town feel, lies in encouraging foot traffic over car traffic.”

8. Unsure

“The concept is intriguing and certainly worthy of thorough study, but a firm commitment on that at this time would be premature.”

9. No

“(I would) dramatically increase the value of vouchers given to displaced residents; refuse to resell land to developers at below market rates; utilize impact fees and other tools necessary to shift the economic advantage towards residents and taxpayers and away from developers.”

Steve Tumlin (i)*

1. Yes​

“The Board of Lights and Water is and has been established as an ‘enterprise’ fund and is thus governed by business principles.”

2. Yes

“Based only upon costs from our suppliers.”

3. Yes

“As the last alternative.”

4. Yes

“(I) do not support making any further capital funding. (I) support them to the extent of working through their challenges that caught many a downtown developer as we lost at least a half a dozen, but the $2 million initial contribution from the city is enough.”

5. Yes

“SPLOST do provide us the capital dollars that we do need for infrastructure so a new list of SPLOST projects is reasonably foreseeable to consider and take to the voters in 2015.”

6. Yes

“If we amended our charter to have a two or three term limit for all our elected officials and not just single out one councilman, I would very much support such a charter change.”

7. Unsure

“(I) have heard many pros and cons but do not feel that a persuasive position has been established yet.”

8. Yes

“The bypass of roads from the Square would not only enhance the Square and its ambiance, but create better traffic flow and commercial opportunities.”

9. Yes

“The criteria is to work in a collaborative way with all to narrow down to a unique plan that will attract development opportunities and jobs to make this a commercial viable area.”

WARD 1:

Stuart Fleming


1. Yes

“The practice that the city has engaged in is done so in an effort to support home ownership (via low property taxes). I support a balanced approach that acknowledges renters are a part of every community in America while also supporting the stabilization that home ownership too has in making us a great place to work and live.”

2. Yes

“I felt it was in the best interest of the city, its long-term growth and continued to be some of the lowest rates in the region.”

3. Yes

“(But), I’m not under the impression that we need to raise property taxes.”

4. Yes

“I support long term redevelopment that revitalizes areas that left to the natural forces may take a generation or more to turn around.”

5. Unsure

“My question would first be why have we overspent/ not managed what we have appropriately.”

6. Yes

“I support term limits for all levels of government.”

7 . Yes

“I’ve always scratched my head when you consider that premium parking is free, or you can pay to park and walk. Those should be reversed.”

8. Yes

“Just imagine if we made the portion of North Park Square (between Shillings to the Strand) a pedestrian only zone. No more weekly closures for the Farmers markets of for events. Put nice cobblestone out, and see what type of restaurants and outdoor events may emerge.”

9. Yes

“As a citizen, I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can support giving a little more of my income to make the community I live in better and more vibrant. Many people are not in that position, and I respect that and look forward to seeing how the vote turns out and supporting it either way.”

Annette Lewis (i)

1. Yes.

“As an Enterprise Fund, the BLW is managed using a business model, thus our rates are determined by our costs of sales (from suppliers).”

2. Yes

3. Yes

“But, only if absolutely necessary to maintain necessary city services.”

4. Yes

“However, I do not support further capital funding.”

5. Yes

“I would support placing another SPLOST question on the ballet for voter approval.”

6. No

“The argument can be made that under a representative democracy, citizens may choose any adult to represent them in government. With that in mind, I would say if a person voluntarily (and by charter) stands for re-election and the voters elect that candidate, they should be allowed to do so.”

7. Unsure

8. Unsure

9. Undisclosed

WARD 2:

Grif Chalfant


1. Yes

“The Marietta Board of Lights and Water does transfer funds to the General Fund to help with the day to day operations of the city.”

2. Yes

“I have to do that every year but 99 percent of these raises are based on the charges from our suppliers, they are direct pass-throughs of increased cost to MBLW.”

3. No

“As much as it would pain me to vote for a tax increase, I believe there are times when it is necessary to raise taxes. That being said, I don’t see any tax increases in the near future.”

4. Yes

“I wasn’t a party to the original funding by the city but I do support and compliment the MRC’s effort and resolve to eliminate an extremely blighted area across the street from our $26 million dollar investment, the conference center and golf course.”

5. Yes

“We have spent approximately $38 million on Roswell Street and it looks great especially from Fairground Street to the Square but a lot of our other parts of the city need to have comparable amounts of money and time spent on them.”

6. Yes

7. Unsure

8. Unsure

9. Yes

WARD 3:

Johnny Walker


1. Unsure

“I am for keeping rates as low as possible. Our suppliers play a big factor in how our rates will be set.”

2. Yes

“I am not in favor of raising but would if rates from our suppliers increase.”

3. Yes

“I would consider raising taxes only as a last resort. We as a city need to look into operations and reduce waste at every instance before we even consider going to the citizens and asking them to pay more for the same services they are now receiving.”

4. Unsure

“I will need to become better educated on the Hedges-Gramling neighborhood project. I will work closely with the Marietta Redevelopment Corp. in finding solutions for this area.”

5. Unsure

“Another SPLOST may be needed in the future but this is only speculative at this point.”

6. Yes

“I would support two term limits and possibly three. If I had championed a major project that was doing great things for the city and our citizens and by leaving the council the project might die, only then would I be supportive of a third term.”

7. Yes

“Parking meters are unsightly but I would consider them only if research proves beneficial to the Square. I have ideas of a tastefully built low rise parking deck at the Mill Street location but will need to further discuss this idea.”

8. No

“I am not in favor of driving traffic away from the Square and would need to see studies on how this would affect the downtown area. Most importantly I would seek input from the merchants on the Square.”

9. Yes

“If the bond is approved I would like to include both public and private citizens in an oversight committee. Much consideration and consulting shall need to take place in order for this to be successful.”

WARD 4:

Andy Morris (i)


1. Yes

“Our business model allows us to extract profits from this entity which helps the city maintain a steady property tax digest.”

2. Yes.

“But only dictated by a cost increase from our supplier.”

3. Yes.

“Only if due to unforeseen circumstances and or emergencies.”

4. No.

“This area needs attention, but I am not in favor of using city funds toward this project.”

5. No

“I am not in favor of an additional SPLOST dedicated to the Roswell Street improvements.

6. Yes

“It would necessitate a change in the city charter, and approval by the state Legislature.”

7. No

“The Square has adequate parking to satisfy our daily needs with the exception of special events.”

8. Unsure

“I would need to have specific details regarding the effect on merchants before I could render an opinion.”

9. Yes

“It is a win-win situation for the city and the school system.”

Marshall Dye

1. Yes

“I believe this transfer of funds works well for our city and continues to allow us to operate with little to no debt on our existing water, sewer and electronic infrastructure.”

2. Yes

“I would only vote to raise rates if absolutely necessary for Marietta Power to operate effectively.”

3. Unsure

“I believe the people of this city are the best stewards of their own money, but we also share streets, parks, schools, and other city property which must be maintained.”

4. No

“I understand that our city is still facing one of the worst housing recessions since the Great Depression, but it is the MRC’s responsibility to get out from under those property investments without requiring more tax dollars to accomplish their objectives.”

5. Yes

“It is inevitable that Marietta will need more SPLOSTs in the future.”

6. Yes

“I support a two term limit.”

7. No

“Charging the visitors of the restaurants and shops on The Square is not a wise decision.”

8. Unsure

“I agree with Mayor Tumlin’s vision on this issue … but I would need to see traffic studies and designs to make a more informed decision.

9. Yes

WARD 5:

Anthony Coleman (i)


1. Unsure

“There would have to be a good justification for that.”

2. Unsure

“There would have to be a good justification for that.”

3. Unsure

“There would have to be a good justification for that.”

4. Yes

“The redevelopment efforts are already in process. This included the buying up of property by past council members.”

5. Unsure

“I would need to do more research on this issue.”

6. No

“The citizens of Marietta elect council member by wards and this has always been the process.”

7. Unsure

“We need to explore this issue in greater detail.”

8. Unsure

“There needs to be a traffic study for this issue.”

9. Unsure

“Mayor and council has already put restrictions on it as to where and how the money will be spent so there will be good oversight.”

Doug Martin

1. Unsure

“I need more time to research this issue before I can make a decision on this matter.”

2. Unsure

“This is not something I would normally be willing to do. I will be willing to negotiate with the utility administrator.”

3. Unsure

“I would need a very good reason to raise any taxes.”

4. No

“I do not understand Marietta’s vision. What will Marietta do with the property purchased? ... I would like the city to work with the community to find ways to fairly use the distressed properties.

5. No

“It seems that every time the city have an idea, I hear the word SPLOST. I do not think we really need another SPLOST. We need more creative ways of creating funds. We already tax the people too much. Let’s hold off a while and work with the bonds and SPLOST which are already on the table.”

6. Yes

“Two terms is enough for a member to create and develop any idea he/she has for the city. When a council member serves longer than two terms, one begins to feel one owns the city.”

7. Yes

“Developing business opportunities on the Square strengthens the 5th ward. Making it easy for Mariettans and others to shop on the Square is a great way to support the merchants. A parking deck is one way to begin to solve the problem.”

8. No

“People outside of Marietta buy more than local people on the Square. More tax revenues come from people passing through. If you route them around the Square, they may never stop and shop with us.”

9. Unsure

“I feel that the bond money may increase taxes of many people who will not receive any benefits from the projected use of the bond. Special interest groups will prosper.”

WARD 6:

Michelle Cooper Kelly


1. Unsure

2. Yes

“As a fiscally responsible leader, all options should be considered; however, there must be a justifiable reason to raise taxes.”

3. Yes

“As a fiscally responsible leader, all options should be considered; however there must be a justifiable reason to raise taxes.”

4. Undisclosed

5. Undisclosed

“Approval for a new SPLOST is for the residents of Marietta to vote on.”

6. No

“I believe the number of terms an elected official serves should be determined by the will of the people in which they are representing.”

7. Unsure

“It’s certainly an idea to be considered once I’m fully versed on the pros and cons.”

8. Yes

“Roundabouts are proven to be efficient in traffic flow.”

9. Unsure

WARD 7:

Philip Goldstein (i)


1. Yes

“The transfer to the City is a return on the investment made in the BLW. The transfer has been constant over the last few years.”

2. Yes

“The BLW is the board that directly raises the rates, subject to council’s approval of the minutes.”

3. No

“It is not something I generally favor. However, when necessary, based on costs or when voters approve an increase for a bond issue.”

4. No

“I support redevelopment in that area. However, I opposed a number of purchases the MRC made because they were overpaying for the property.”

5. Yes

“It will be up to the council and mayor as to what city projects are proposed for the next SPLOST if the county decides to go forward with one.”

6. No

“It is already in the hands (vote) of the citizens of each ward if an elected official is allowed the privilege to continue serving for another term. Having people serve that have tenure provides an institutional knowledge that would otherwise be lost.”

7. No

“Cobb County has two parking decks that provide more than ample parking on weekends and nights for free or for a small fee during the workday. Later on, if another parking deck is needed west of the railroad tracks, the Downtown Marietta Development Authority has the ability to raise the millage in the downtown district to fund a deck if another one is needed or desired.”

8. No

“The traffic pattern that exists now is the most efficient given the constraints that are in place. The bypasses that have been looked at in the past have either been blocked by prior building or a current planned project and are not realistic.”

9. Undisclosed

“I will make that vote in the voting booth. It is now up to the citizens of Marietta to decide on the bond.”
Comments
(1)
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square peds
|
October 20, 2013
The whole Square should be a pedestrian zone, but City of Marietta will never go for it due to parking ticket revenue.

The City leaders talk smack about the awful tower/booter while doing the same thing to our visitors with their parking tickets placed under wipers.

We should have zero cars on the Square. That worked for growth for the first 100 years of Marietta, then the cars showed up and the Square suffered a huge decline to near irrelevance.

Unfortunately a Square of peds will never pass through our round hole, city council, as they are only capable of looking backward in their personal memory, never backward in the history book, and never forward (except for Goldstein but then it's only his family's personal interests 10, 25, 50 and 100 years down the road)
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