The council voted 5-2, with Councilmen Philip Goldstein and Anthony Coleman opposed, on June 11 to approve the MRC’s new bylaws, which made the group independent from the city.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said he sees the group working for the city as a liaison for potential buyers interested in city-owned property.
But, the city won’t invest any more money into the group.
“I imagine that financially, we probably won’t use that (group) as a well again,” Tumlin said. “There could be some activities that are beneficial to the city that the city couldn’t do for itself that we could funnel through them.”
Those activities include being a communicator for the city when it wants to sell a property it owns, Tumlin said. So, the MRC could look for buyers and market property that is for sale, the mayor said.
“We have excess property we might choose to market through them,” Tumlin said.
The mayor said the city has already hired the real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle to buy and sell properties on Franklin Road as part of the city’s redevelopment efforts in that corridor. The firm receives a 3 percent commission on each property.
“It would be kind of what Jones Lang LaSalle does for us,” Tumlin said.
The city could use the MRC to market its properties in the future, the mayor said.
The new bylaws state the group no longer has to report to the city. Also, Marietta officials will not take part in the board and the City Council will not approve members of its board of directors.
Coleman and Goldstein said they opposed the bylaws because the MRC removed language stating the group was subject to open records and open meetings laws. The two councilman did not approve of a city government allowing the removal of things required by state law.
The MRC only removed those provisions from its bylaws as a matter of maintenance, Buday said.
“That’s not the sort of thing that needs to be in the bylaws,” Buday, who helped revise the bylaws, said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with whether we agree or disagree. It’s something that trumps the bylaws.”
The future of the board hasn’t been officially planned, but the two agree they will continue to work together in some way.
“I think that we have a lot of very able people on the board, and I think there’ll be discussion among the city and the MRC about what the role of the MRC will be,” Buday said.
The board is prepared to look at whatever the mayor and City Council ask it to, Buday said.
The city is still financially tied to the MRC from a loan it gave the group. The MRC owes the city $2.1 million.
This money was given to the MRC to help it secure a $4.2 million loan. The loan, from the Bank of North Georgia, was put to use to buy 8 acres of property on Powders Springs Street, across from the Hilton Marietta Conference Center.
The MRC still owes the bank $3.9 million. On top of that, it promised to pay the city its $2.1 million back.
“We certainly hope so,” Buday said about paying the city back.
Buday said the time to pay back its debt will come when it can catch some luck in the market and the economy. When the MRC was created in 2003, its goal was to encourage redevelopment in Marietta by buying up aging properties and reselling them at a profit.
But the economy went downhill while the MRC tried to accomplish this goal, Buday said. Now, the group has been in debt with no profit in sight for years.
But, with the economy looking up, Buday said the group is hopeful about the property it still owns on Powder Springs Street.
“Hopefully, it will be marketed and sold at a good price,” Buday said. “It all depends on how much we can sell the properties for — that’s why it’s been a bit of a slow process. You don’t want to assemble it and sell it too quickly in this state of the economy, but it’s improving.”
The time for repaying loans might come much later, Buday said, because the group’s main focus is to spur economic development.
“Our primary goal is to improve the quality of life in Marietta,” he said, “and we certainly would like to do that in a way that the costs are not too great but we would like to improve life in Marietta.”
The MRC will have its next meeting June 25 at 3 p.m.