Marietta council discusses church settlement behind closed doors
by Rachel Miller
September 18, 2013 01:10 AM | 2942 views | 2 2 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The City Council met behind closed doors on Tuesday to make minor tweaks to a settlement proposal with Roswell Street Baptist Church that could end a decade-long dispute.

Mayor Steve Tumlin called the special meeting to discuss an agreement for the city to acquire church property to widen Roswell Street from two to four lanes.

The Rev. Ernest Easley, the church’s senior pastor, told the council last week his congregation would allow the city the needed property in exchange for $115,000.

Tumlin said there were a few “clerical changes” to the wording in the city’s response to the deal. The City Council could vote to approve the final agreement as early as next Wednesday.

Referendum education

Following the private meeting over the settlement, council members discussed how to inform voters about the Nov. 5 referendum on a $68 million bond that would help redevelop Franklin Road and improve Whitlock Avenue.

Last week, Tumlin directed staff to prepare pamphlets to help educate residents on the bond.

Beth Sessoms, the city’s economic development director, said she was creating a fact sheet and visual aids to be used at three town-hall meetings in early October.

The items would include conceptual drawings on improvements to Whitlock Avenue, highlighting the blocks to get sidewalks, brickwork and landscaping if the bond passes.

City Manager Bill Bruton said the times and locations will “hopefully” be posted on the city’s website within a week.

Michelle Cooper Kelly, a member of the Marietta Housing Authority who is running for retiring Councilman Jim King’s Ward 6 seat, attended the Tuesday meeting and said the material should provide clarity.

At least two advocacy groups on opposing sides of the Franklin Road redevelopment issue have launched websites and published pamphlets.

A brochure by Cobb Taxpayers Association titled “VOTE NO on the Franklin Road Bond Referendum,” said Marietta residents should be able to invest their own money, not give the city a “blank check” with no precise plans.

If the bond passes, it would increase property taxes by 2 mills a year over five years. That means the owner of a $200,000 home would see a tax increase of $160 per year and the owner of a $400,000 home would see a $320 annual increase, Sessoms said.

The Marietta City School System will be lowering its millage rate by 1.19 mills, including a .475-mill drop this year and a 0.712-mill decrease anticipated for 2014.

This drop in the school millage would mean the $68 million redevelopment bond would cause a net overall increase of .813 mills over current tax bills, or $65 in additional taxes on a $200,000 home and $130 on a $400,000 home.

Another group, Revitalize Marietta, founded by public policy strategists Heath Garrett and Mitch Hunter, has placed “VOTE YES! MARIETTA” yard signs along Whitlock Avenue.

The group’s tagline reads, “If a city isn’t growing, it is dying.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
September 18, 2013
How much will the city charge taxpayers to "educate" them to vote themselves a tax increase, and is anyone taken in by the notion that this "education" campaign is nothing more than an attempt to sway voters?
Ugh help us please!
September 18, 2013
Wish Cobb would get rid of some of the apartments in Cobb County Proper as well. The slums in Marietta close and it will just move it to the county in one of the numerous apartments outside the city!
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