The topic was all too relevant, coming so soon after this month’s announcement that Theatre in the Square, a professional theater company that produced plays in Marietta for the last 30 years, had to close because of a lack of funding.
Tumlin said the Downtown Marietta Development Authority, which is in the process of deciding whether to change the way it spends money, shouldn’t move too far away from supporting the city’s nonprofits.
“The DMDA has been a good citizen. It basically helps the city and helps all the (charity-supported) organizations to about $85,000 a year,” Tumlin said. “Now there’s a push to make the DMDA concentrate more on bricks and mortar, so to speak: quiet railroads, parking decks.”
As a member of the DMDA, Tumlin said there must be balance.
“We have to have our organizations,” Tumlin said. “I don’t think we’re going to need parking decks if we don’t take care of the Marietta Museum of History. I don’t think we need parking decks if we don’t keep the Strand, if we don’t support Sally Macaulay at the (Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art). … The city and the DMDA are going to have to support them.”
Tumlin also touted enhancements being made to the city’s park system through the voter-approved $25 million parks bond. The long-awaited Hickory Hills Park, which will be a model for parks around the country, would be opening in the next few weeks, he said.
The council was also trying to decide where to build a community center similar to the one Smyrna enjoys.
The city has been busy completing the $58 million in projects voters approved in the 2006 SPLOST with a roundabout slated for Fairground and Allgood roads and streetscape improvements along Roswell, Powder Springs, Fairground, Franklin roads and the Square.
Voters also approved a 2011 SPLOST, giving the city an anticipated $44 million to spend on a new fire station and training center on Sawyer Road, along with continuing projects that were started in the 2006 SPLOST. Without such funds, the city would be reduced to filling potholes, he said.
The city has seen 156 new jobs with Osmotica Pharmaceutical’s relocation and 400 new jobs with the arrival of TASQ. A 10-screen movie theater is being built on Powder Springs Street, and a Fresh Market Walmart Grocery Store is going up across from that.
Tumlin praised the Marietta Police Department for shutting down pill mills and singled out the Marietta Fire Department for handling 285 fires with no deaths in 2011.
However, Tumlin said he expects 5 percent rate increases in electricity, water and sewer bills over the coming years.
Revenues are down 10 to 12 percent, whether it’s the city’s permit revenues, property tax revenues, or business license revenues, he said.
“We’ve tightened our belt, but the way we’ve addressed them is we have not raised taxes,” he said. “We have not cut services. Ironically, I think we’ve increased services.”
The city has had staff double up on responsibilities, in addition to bringing such services as recycling in-house, he said.
Councilman Philip Goldstein applauded the speech.
“It was a good positive speech, just basically covering the highlights of what’s going on in the city,” Goldstein said.
Cobb Commissioner Helen Goreham was also in attendance.
“I thought his opening quote, this being the best of times and the worst of times and trying to make the best of the situation was very fitting, and I think the city is doing a great job along those lines in addressing the needs of the citizenry of the city,” she said.