The City Council on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on almost doubling its proposed Franklin Road redevelopment bond to $68 million.
If voters approve the bond on Nov. 5, it would increase the city’s millage rate by two mills from 4.046 to 6.046 mills. That means a homeowner with a home valued at $200,000 would pay an additional $160 a year beginning Jan. 1 for 20 years, said Brian Binzer, the city’s development services director.
Last month, the City Council voted to place a $35 million bond on the November ballot with $4 million earmarked for Whitlock Avenue streetscape improvements and $31 million for Franklin Road property acquisition, demolition of blighted businesses and apartments, and the construction of roadways.
Crunching the numbers
But then city staff took a closer look at the numbers.
“There was an initial thought of doing the bond at 2 mills, and the city very conservatively looked at the tax digest to consider several scenarios which would raise $35 million,” Binzer explained.
The city hired Dianne McNabb of PFM Group as its financial consultant for a fee of $35,000 and Teresa Finister of Murray, Barnes, Finister as bond and disclosure counsel for a fee of $80,000.
“Typically, ballot questions list total bond amounts and not the amount of millage to be raised,” Binzer said. “When it was subsequently looked at, it was determined that 2 mills would raise approximately $68 million and the Mayor and Council felt it would be appropriate to reconsider the bond amount.”
The Council’s Economic/ Community Development Committee made up of council members Johnny Sinclair, Anthony Coleman and Chairman Grif Chalfant, on June 26 voted 2-1 with Coleman opposed to advance the $68 million bond proposal to the full City Council.
The latest $68 million bond proposal allocates $4 million for Whitlock Avenue and $64 million for Franklin Road property acquisition, demolition of blighted businesses and apartments, and the construction of roads.
While the city has drafted two possible road projects which the bond could help pay for, Binzer said the exact location and cost of the road or roads will likely be determined by the City Council once the bond is approved.
One potential road, called the “University North Parkway Connector,” at an estimated length of 2,500 feet, would stretch from Cobb Parkway between Polytechnic Drive and Life’s Way to Franklin Road at Parkway Place. The $5.7 million cost of that road could be broken down into $3 million from the bond and $2.7 million from potential federal dollars or future special purpose local option sales tax dollars.
A second proposed road the city is considering, called the “University South Parkway Connector,” at an estimated length of 4,905 feet, would stretch from Cobb Parkway at Barclay Circle to Franklin Road near Franklin Forest Industrial Park. That $11 million cost could be broken down into $4.3 million from the bond proceeds and $6.7 million from federal or SPLOST dollars.
The increased bond means the fees for McNabb and Finister also increase. Under the new proposal, the city will pay McNabb $68,000 and Finister $100,000 if the bond passes, Binzer said.
Fan and critics
The bond has been championed by leaders such as Tumlin, Marietta Board of Education Chairman Randy Weiner and Cobb Chamber of Commerce Chairman Greg Morgan, who believe the 1.5 mile stretch of Franklin Road between Delk Road and the South Loop with about 3,000 aging apartment units is a drain on the school system and city. Clearing out a number of those complexes will bring in developers, grow jobs and lift the city’s overall tax base, they say.
But not everyone is convinced, among them Councilman Philip Goldstein.
“I would think that the $35 million bond has a better chance of passing, and I’m concerned about the amount of the $68 million bond,” Goldstein said Monday. “One is the additional millage increase. Also, when government makes the infrastructure improvements, there is a point where you do so much and then business needs to step in and do their part.”
Goldstein used the example of downtown Marietta in the late 1970s. “Certain infrastructure was done, and then after that it was up to the private sector to do their part as well,” Goldstein said. Wednesday’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the City Council chamber at 205 Lawrence St. in Marietta.