Deadline looming for Tucker public works referendum
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By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor
Tucker, GA — Tucker City Council continues to debate the terms of a special election referendum on public works, and the deadline is looming.
As Decaturish.com reported last month, Tucker depends on intergovernmental agreements (IGA) with DeKalb County for public safety, roads and drainage, stormwater, sanitation, and sewer services. City-owned dams are a liability in their current condition, and residents often complain about sidewalk conditions, street repairs, and road improvements.
Now the city wants to take over responsibility of roads, stormwater or both. A legal notice of the ballot question must be posted in a newspaper 90 days before the Nov. 3 election, according to city attorney Brian Anderson.
At the July 13 City Council meeting, City Manager Tami Hanlin presented a resolution to add additional city services by election. But council members deferred a vote, requesting a special-called meeting on July 20 to continue working out details.
The resolution calls for a referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot. It would allow Tucker residents to be removed from DeKalb County Special Services Tax; increase the millage cap from 0.9 mills to 2.75 mills; and add public works services directly provided by the city.
Councilmember Pat Soltys asked to defer the vote for more information, hesitant to make a decision.
“If we were able to get some of the information that would make all of us feel a bit more comfortable with this, and maybe have a small work session to discuss that, would that be possible …?” She added, “I would feel better if we didn’t have to make a decision tonight.”
Tucker citizens need more time to make an informed decision, said councilmember Michelle Penkava.
“I think we should do it on a different date than Nov. 3. We are rushing it … We can’t have public meetings, we’re not sure about our budget, it just seems to me like the timing is off,” she said.
Public attendance at city council meetings is down since Covid-19 restrictions were enacted. No residents signed up for public comment at the July 13 meeting.
“I agree that we have to be leaders in all of this, but I do think that part of that is making sure it’s the appropriate time to get into this for the public,” she said.
Penkava made a motion to table the discussion to a special called meeting at 8 a.m. on July 20. Council passed the motion unanimously.
City council also covered:
– Lawrenceville Highway Corridor Study is underway. A survey by VHB engineering firm received 300 responses on needed improvements to sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and visibility. The study will propose short- and long-term solutions at intersections including Cofer Crossing, Old Norcross Road, LaVista Road, Lynburn Road, and Hugh Howell Road.
– The third read of an ordinance to increase the city’s property tax millage rate passed unanimously. According to the memo, adopting a millage rate of 0.9 mils is considered a property tax increase of 3.69 percent. The impact to the average homestead property with a value of $258,573 is $3.31.
– City engineer Ken Hildebrandt presented a contract with Construction 57 for $247,660 to build a sidewalk on Cowan Road from Idlewood Road to Hugh Howell Road, and along both sides of Lynburn Drive from Main Street to 1st Avenue. Council approved the bid unanimously.
– Mayor Auman appointed Derik West as one of two At Large members to the newly established Urban Redevelopment Agency. West served as chair of Tucker Charter Commission in 2019.
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