Marietta residents could be in for a pleasant surprise the next time property taxes come due.
The city is expected to reduce the tax rate applied toward the $68 million Franklin Gateway redevelopment bond from 2 mills to 1.75 mills. The overall millage rate will go from 5.617 to 5.367.
That means a slight decrease in city taxes for homeowners.
A Marietta resident who owns a $250,000 home in the city can expect their bill to go from $539.23 to $515.23, a reduction of $24.
The city plans to further reduce the rate to 1.5 mills in 2021. The change will not affect other taxes such as state or school system taxes.
The 20-year redevelopment bond was approved by voters in 2013. The city has used the funds to buy and demolish apartment complexes it considered dilapidated to open the properties up to new developments, including the Atlanta United headquarters.
The rate reduction comes after the city decided to use the redevelopment bond’s remaining balance along with the money raised by selling properties to pay off part of the bond early.
Mayor Steve Tumlin said the bond has largely served its intended purpose and starting to pay it off early will reduce the overall cost.
“Our investment, we’ve gotten it back,” he said. “Instead of waiting 17 years to pay it back to the taxpayer, we’re going to go ahead and pay some of it off, which reduces how much we have to allocate each year. It was going to be 2 mills for 20 years. We’re in the sixth year, and because we sold all but one piece of property, we’re able to give some back.”
Tumlin spoke to the MDJ at Monday night’s agenda work session, where the council voted unanimously to move the budget forward to Wednesday night’s meeting.
The budget, which is set to go into effect in July if approved by the council Wednesday, has a general fund of $61,796,403 dollars, which will be used to fund city services, including public works, police, fire and parks.
The current fiscal year’s general fund is $59,738,151, a difference of just over $2 million, or 3.45%.
The budget funds the Marietta Police Department at $17,061,168, compared to last year’s $16,560,071. That’s a change of just over $500,000.
New hires at the city are set to include four new public safety ambassadors under the police department, as well as a code enforcement officer who will work on the weekends, something the city has not had before.
City employees are set to receive a 3% merit pay increase in January if approved by the council at that time.
Monday’s meeting also marked the first city meeting attended by Councilman Reggie Copeland following his arrest last month. Police said Copeland refused to exit his vehicle or provide his driver’s license after he was involved in a collision. According to his arrest warrant, the councilman had to be dragged from the car by officers.
Copeland, who attended the meeting with his arm in a sling and his foot in a medical boot, declined to answer questions about the incident before the meeting.
Tumlin said Copeland’s personal issues will not impact his work on the council.
For a council member to be removed from office would require him or her to be convicted of a felony. Copeland only faces misdemeanor charges of obstruction.
“He’s still a member of this team, and we’re going to work together,” Tumlin said. “His own personal problems, that’s another world. He’s still a valuable member of our team, and I’ve reached out to him and said let’s keep moving forward.”
“We all bring baggage; his is the most current,” he added with a chuckle.