“I want a commitment from this city to stabilize that area,” Colburn said during a town hall meeting at her school Thursday evening about the proposed $68 million redevelopment bond.
About 35 people turned out for the meeting with most eager for more details before making a final decision on Election Day, Nov. 5.
If it passes, the $68 million bond would be used to purchase and demolish properties along Franklin Road to parcel together cleared land to entice developers.
Greg and Susan Marshall, who have lived in Marietta since 1979 and own a home near the high school, said they are leaning toward voting for the bond, but want to make sure it is the right choice. Greg Marshall said he wanted to know what the bond amount would mean for his family financially.
If the bond passes, it would increase property taxes by 2 mills over a projected 20 years. That means the owner of a $200,000 home would see a tax increase of $160 per year and the owner of a $400,000 home would see a $320 annual increase, according to the city.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said there is a chance the proposed redevelopment efforts intended for Franklin Road could cost less than the $68 million that the resolution would authorize the city to borrow.
The loan amount could be extracted in chunks, meaning the amount of debt the city would owe could be less, Tumlin said.
Joan Major, who lives in the Carriage Oaks subdivision off Whitlock Avenue, said she already voted for the bond Thursday morning.
“I do believe we need development on Franklin Road and I do believe in this project on Whitlock,” Major said.
Marietta residents have until Nov. 1 for early voting at the Cobb Elections Main Office at the West Park Government Center at 736 Whitlock Ave. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Of the $68 million allocated for the bond, $4 million is earmarked for pedestrian and landscape improvements to Whitlock Avenue.
Dan Conn, the city’s public works director, said a portion of the money would be used to line the street from Oakmont Drive to Kirkpatrick Drive on both sides with sidewalks.
The less than one mile stretch, a block west of North Marietta Parkway to a block east of Marietta High School, would also include new traffic signal technology that could help with the commuter traffic congestion, Conn said.
Tumlin said if the redevelopment bond does not pass Nov. 5, there is a chance the street improvements on Whitlock Avenue could be accomplished with federal funding and a new special purpose local option sales tax. The 2011 SPLOST expires in 2015.
Groups seek Yes and No votes
At least two political action groups have taken to the streets, positioning yard signs and passing out literature to push residents to either vote yes or no on the bond.
The signs are “starting to pop up all over Marietta like kudzu,” said Lance Lamberton, president of the Cobb County Taxpayers Association, which is behind the group Vote NO.
Lamberton said his group has not filed a report with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to disclose how much has been raised or spent on its Vote NO campaign.
“Our side does not have to file a report because we are only spending $28 for the signs, and have raised less than $100 for our campaign,” he said.
Lamberton said the cost of printing brochures, which he has passed out at numerous city meetings, were donated by a printer.
On the other side of the debate is Vote Yes Marietta, co-founded by public policy strategists Heath Garrett and Mitch Hunter, who filed their campaign disclosures with the state Aug. 30.
The report says Vote Yes Marietta raised $1,800 in cash contributions, including $500 donations from city attorney Doug Haynie’s wife, Susan Haynie, and Travis Watson of Austell, a dentist with Atlanta West Dentistry.
The report also says Vote Yes Marietta spent about $520 on “Voter Data for the city of Marietta” from the public relations and political consulting firm, SSH, Inc.
That information has been used to send registered voters glossy flyers in the mail and call home phones with automated messages about the crime issues surrounding Franklin Road.