Interim Avondale mayor receives standing ovation at first – and last – State of the City address

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt March 31, 2015
Avondale Estates Mayor Pro Tem Terry Giager thanked county officials during a June 19, 2014 groundbreaking ceremony for a new fire station in Avondale Estates. File Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Avondale Estates Mayor Pro Tem Terry Giager thanked county officials during a June 19, 2014 groundbreaking ceremony for a new fire station in Avondale Estates. File Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Terry Giager didn’t want to be Avondale Estates’ mayor, and he’s glad to be turning the job over to the man who won the city’s most recent election, Jonathan Elmore.

On Monday, Giager’s time as mayor officially wound down as he gave the Avondale Estates State of the City Address. Giager marveled at the level of interest in the March 17 election, which drew five candidates for the unpaid position of leading one of DeKalb County’s smallest cities.

“That was really something to have five people volunteer for this job,” he said.

Former mayor Ed Rieker resigned in October, promoting Giager from mayor pro tem to interim mayor for six months. Giager would often chafe at the title as he led the city through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history.

As mayor, he guided the city through annexation of Stratford Green town homes and the development of an annexation master plan. All the while he dealt with the fallout from the controversy that arose over the way Rieker handled the touchy issue.

Giager’s speech was straightforward. He ticked off a list of businesses that had opened in the city, like Sunbrimmer Records, Pallookaville, The Bishop, and the Market in Avondale. He gave a shout out to the older businesses like Savage Pizza, Good Karma and Our Way Cafe. He reminded residents that entrepreneur Tony Longval is taking the city’s historic Towne Cinema building and turning it into a music venue.

He talked about the recent announcement that Google Fiber would be coming to Avondale Estates and several other Atlanta area cities, possibly as early as summer 2016.

“If you’ve been on the internet lately, I don’t know what’s wrong but mine really is slow,” Giager said. “I’m really excited to have this come to Atlanta.”

He said he’s not sure what’s going on with the state legislature’s consideration of Avondale’s annexation plans.

“We have the map,” he said. “It’s gone out. It’s down at the General Assembly right now. They’ve got two days left Tuesday and Thursday. You really never know what’s going to happen. We still have hopes that this can come through.”

After conducting its own feasibility study, the city expects the annexation plan would roughly double Avondale’s population and expand its annual revenue by well over $400,000 after expenditures in its first year.

City staffers calculated property taxes, sanitation fees and stormwater fees based off tax commissioner information to come up with that $400,000 figure, City Manager Clai Brown told Decaturish. Staff did not factor in several other tax revenue streams most feasibility studies consider, opting to focus on concrete, almost guaranteed money sources.

“We did our own feasibility study because we wanted it to be as exact as it could get it,” Giager said. “We wanted to know exactly. We were very conservative about the revenue. We did not take occupational taxes (into account). … I wanted the least amount of revenue, the most conservative revenue and worst case scenario in expenses.”

Giager also gave an update on the Euramex, a developer planning a mixed use development on the Fenner Dunlop property in Avondale Estates.

“We had a meeting with them last Friday to get in touch and make sure that we’re still headed down the right path,” Giager said. “We’re hoping to hear something. They have some contract agreements and store agreements they want to put to bed before they come in with anything. We’re all on the same page and we agreed to be on the same page.”

Giager said construction likely won’t start until next year.

At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Lindsay Forlines asked for a round of applause for Giager, who will now resume his role as a commissioner. He received a standing ovation.

“We’re excited about Jonathan, but gosh we’re going to miss Terry,” Forlines said. “He’s just been so wonderful and jumped into everything. I don’t know what we would’ve done for the past half a year without you, I really don’t. Thank you, Terry.”

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