During a meeting Thursday, the MRC revised its bylaws and articles to separate it from the oversight of the mayor and Marietta City Council.
The directive to make the MRC more independent came from the City Council in February.
“The MRC has basically done what the council asked,” said Beth Sessoms, the acting executive director of the MRC.
The new bylaws suggest the MRC does not have to report to the city. Also, the City Council will not appoint or approve members of the board of directors. City officials will not take part in the MRC board.
The revised version of the MRC bylaws will be presented to the City Council at its June meeting, Sessoms said.
MRC board member Ray Buday said the future of the MRC depends on the approval of the new bylaws by the city.
“(The mayor and City Council) will presumably maintain a close interest in the MRC, but I think they think that can be achieved without the mayor and council having a direct role,” Buday said.
A member of the city staff works closely with the MRC right now: Sessoms, who has been acting executive director since 2012. Additionally, Teresa Sabree has been working with the MRC as the redevelopment project manager since 2004.
Buday said he thinks the city would continue to benefit from the MRC’s work after the separation, but discretion in their roles will be left to the city. Buday said he expects to hear talk from the mayor and council members about what the long-term role of the MRC should be following the separation. But this will also be left up to the desire of the mayor and City Council, Buday said.
“After the separation is completed, I’m sure the mayor and City Council will be discussing the future role of MRC in the community as an advisory group or a group to deliberate over whatever the city would want,” he said.
The MRC is prepared for whatever the city requests of it, Buday said.
“There was some discussion about what’s ahead,” Buday said, “and the clear consensus on the part of the board members is that the MRC has some very capable members on it, and they stand very dedicated on whatever role the mayor and City Council would like us to play.”
The city has a long history with the MRC, which was formed in 2003. Marietta helped it secure a $4.2 million loan to purchase around 8 acres of property on Powder Springs Street across from the Hilton Marietta Conference Center. The goal of the MRC was to buy vacant lots and flip them for a profit, but economic setbacks hindered its progress. The group currently owes the Bank of North Georgia $3.9 million.
Rent to rise in city-owned property
Acting as a private landlord would, the MRC decided Thursday to raise the rental rates on its properties this summer. The increases will vary — based on the different duplexes and homes — from an increase of $25 to $50 each month, Sessoms said.
“We feel like the rents are not at the market level that they should be,” Buday said.
The decision was made because the properties were not being rented out at the typical market value for their worth and the extra revenue will help the MRC pay off its outstanding loan.
The residents of the MRC’s properties have not gone through a rise in rent in about four or five years, Sessoms said.
“We’re acting like any other private landlord. We want to maximize our revenue,” Buday said. “I think the increase was justified.”
The MRC collects $6,575 every month from renters, and with these increases, it will collect a total of $8,225 each month. Because of its loan and expenses in up keeping properties, the MRC is losing money every month, Buday said.
MRC sells property to city
The MRC announced a step toward paying off its loan at the Thursday meeting with the sale of a piece of property on North Marietta Parkway.
The city of Marietta bought the property at 409 North Marietta Parkway for $91,000 and plans on using it to add to the Elizabeth Porter Recreation Center, Sessoms said. The city is looking into adding a playground and splash pad with the additional land, she said.
The MRC will use the money from the April sale to pay off part of its bank loan.