Advisory Roundtable Recap: Mableton’s Mayor Michael Owens

Cobb County Advisory Roundtable Recap
October 25th, 2023
Speaker: Mayor Michael Owens, City of Mableton

On Wednesday, October 25th, 2023, the Council welcomed Mayor Michael Owens of the new city of Mableton. Thank you Mayor Owens for your time today and leadership in your community.

Mableton did not legally exist as a city five months ago. Now it is the largest city in Cobb County by land mass and population, with nearly 80,000 residents between the Silver Comet Trail in the north and Six Flags in the south.

Mayor Owens, elected April 18th, says that he and his colleagues have wasted no time in setting the groundwork to meet necessary milestones. City officials had their first meeting on May 1st and the city began operations on June 1st. Owens pointed out that Cobb County has not had a new city in a long time, so there isn’t really a clear playbook to follow and there was not a ‘transition team’ in place. They are assembling the basic building blocks of starting a city. Along the way, they want Mableton to carve itself out as a new and unique community. “We are staunch partners with Cobb County,” Owens said, “but we are keen on chartering our own path forward, and we need to ensure our identity and growth are front and center.”

Near-term, their number one priority is the city’s budget. Owens and his team just wrapped up 100 days in office and have already earmarked $1mm for the budget. Seeking revenue opportunities, they are working with the county tax office for ad valorem in motor vehicle sales, negotiating franchise fees, and establishing a hotel/motel tax ordinance. Since Mableton represents 10% of the county, Mayor Owens intends for his city to receive a fair share of Cobb County’s tax revenue. Multi-family housing in Mableton, he said, represents 35% of real estate revenue for the county. Every city government needs the appropriate funds for enacting initiatives and hiring the right people. Mableton has hired a city accountant, city clerk, and financial consultant, and soon they will look to hire a Community Development Director and a City Manager.

The city’s charter provides a two year transition period. A portion of these efforts will be community-facing initiatives like beautification and programs for the city’s youth and senior populations. “Our children shouldn’t need to travel to Smyrna for little league sports,” the Mayor said. But first, the Mayor emphasized, basic public services must be funded and maintained to truly increase residents’ quality of life. He and his team have begun the process for a feasibility study on city planning, zoning, code enforcement, parks and rec, and sanitation. Regarding sanitation, the Mayor mentioned his preference for a free marketplace rather than a single city provider. His team has worked with the Cobb Trash Haulers Association to be clear about intentions and ensure that there is oversight for quality of sanitation services.

At the end of the day, Mayor Owens aims to be a bold and impactful mayor but recognizes that he and his team cannot do it alone. They need partnerships, he says. Owens is in constant contact with mayors throughout the county and state who want to see their success. He has also been tapping into the collective wisdom of Mableton residents and will soon seek citizen engagement through the community’s various boards. In fact, Owens mentioned his intention to create Mableton’s own Commission of Authorities and Boards.

The mayor’s conclusion was short and sweet: “Mableton is in a very good place.”