Marietta City Council Approves Hiring of Consultant Contingent on Approval of the Mayor’s $35 Million Bond Package

Marietta City Council took the first steps towards asking voters to approve a $35 million bond package to promote the redevelopment of Franklin Road, Whitlock Avenue and Lemon Street, as well as other areas within the city. The Council unanimously voted to hire Dianne McNabb of PFM Group (a financial consultant) as well as Teresa Finister of Murray, Barnes, Finister (a bond and disclosure council) to oversee the project, contingent upon the bond passing.

The proposal before the City Council seeks to authorize the issuance of a General Obligation bond for special projects and to stabilize the student population in the Marietta School System. If approved by the citizens of Marietta, the bond may increase the millage rate by 2 mills annually, and asks for voter approval to be considered on the November 2013 ballot. Mayor Steve Tumlin gave a general idea of how the funds would be spent, stating the city would like to buy up the blighted apartment complexes along Franklin Road in order to sell the property potentially to commercial developers.

The Mayor discussed:

· Connecting Franklin Road with Barclay Circle off Cobb Parkway to help alleviate traffic associated with Southern Polytechnic and LifeUniversities

· Improving the aesthetics of Whitlock Avenue

· Converting the vacant LemonStreetSchool into a museum to honor the history the school has in Marietta;

The recent passage of the Marietta Ed-SPLOST, set up for a reduction in the city school millage rate by 1.187 mills; which would mean the millage rate, if the proposal was approved by the Council in current form, would only result in a .813 millage increase, or approximately $65 a year, based on a $200,000 home. The bond would be for 20 years.

Urban blight has become front and center in the Franklin Road area, with aging apartment complexes and its high levels of crime. The bond initiative would be a leap to redevelop blighted areas and attract new residents and business to Marietta. Mayor Tumlin believes redevelopment would improve the area’s schools and create a safer environment for residents. Additionally, a halo effect would be established by benefiting surrounding hotels and office parks, along with bringing new business to the city which in turn brings jobs. Will the public buy into the Mayor’s proposal? The Franklin Road Corridor is attractive to developers for redevelopment purposes for several reasons. The location, situated between two exits on 1-75 near Highway 41 and in between Cumberland and TownCenter, with easy access to downtown and the airport, is conducive to a mixed-use or office environment.

Is now the time to consider a proposal? The question, rather, should be if not now, when? Mayor Tumlin is positive on community support of the project. “I’m hearing extraordinary support,” he said, “We’re a community that’s had a SPLOST since 1994 multiple times; we approved a parks bond in the worst economy in years and the school got an auditorium.” “We have a community that is willing to invest in itself, but we have to give them what they want.” The City Council has the opportunity to work with the Mayor and lay the groundwork for the future and this initiative could be a signature project of the Council and Mayor Tumlin that would have a lasting effect long beyond their terms. The Marietta City Council met on May 29 to discuss a $35 million redevelopment referendum and allow public comment on possible development projects on the November referendum.