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Decatur City Commission to hold organizational meeting, elect mayor and mayor pro-tem

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Decatur City Commission to hold organizational meeting, elect mayor and mayor pro-tem

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Commissioners, pictured left to right, are: Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers, Lesa Mayer, Kelly Walsh, Mayor Patti Garrett, and George Dusenbury. Photo obtained via the city of Decatur


This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission on Jan. 4 will hold its first meeting of the year, which means it’s time to elect a mayor and mayor pro-tem.

Unlike some other cities, Decatur’s mayor is selected by their fellow commissioners. Mayor Patti Garrett and Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers both confirmed to Decaturish they are interested in serving in their posts again. Garrett was first elected as mayor in 2016. Powers was first elected as mayor pro-tem in 2018.

Commissioners will also vote on a renewal of City Manager Andrea Arnold’s contract. A copy of her is now posted on the city’s website. Arnold’s salary won’t change. She currently makes $170,000 a year. But under the terms of the new contract, the City Commission will consider a 5 percent raise for Arnold on or before July 1 in conjunction with the adoption of the FY2021/2022 budget, which would bring her salary to $178,500. The two-year agreement expires on Dec. 31, 2022.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jan. 4 meeting will be held virtually. Here are the instructions on how to attend:

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1. View the live broadcast of the Decatur City Commission meeting at     https://www.decaturga.com/citycommission/page/streaming-video.

2. Register in advance to participate during either the “Public Comment” or “Requests and Petitions” portions of the meeting at https://zoom.us/j/99666061635. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You may also participate by phone by calling (929) 205-6099 and entering the meeting ID (The 11-digit number shown in the Zoom registration link.)

If you are unable to participate in the virtual meeting, you may email your “public comments” on agenda items or submit “requests and petitions” by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 4th to: Andrea Arnold, City Manager, [email protected]

In addition to electing mayor, mayor pro tem and discussing Arnold’s contract, city commissioners will consider reappointing Bryan Downs as city attorney; reappointing Rhathelia Stroud as Chief Municipal Court Judge; reappointing Berryl A. Anderson, Hollie Manheimer and Matthew McCoyd as part-time municipal court judges; and reappointing Charles E. Bailey and F. Robert “Bobby” Slotkin, Jr. as substitute municipal court judges.

In other business:

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– The City Commission will consider a resolution expressing support for a revised tax break for seniors being proposed by the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education for the upcoming legislative session.

The new tax break provides an exemption on $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 of appraised value) for seniors aged 65-69 if their income is at or below 80% of the adjusted median income for the Atlanta area. That income figure is $52,980 for a two-person household. Seniors aged 70 and above will also receive the same exemption on $200,000 of assessed home value ($400,000 of appraised value), but without an income cap.

It must be passed by the Georgia legislature and approved by voters in November 2021 before going into effect in 2022.

It is intended to replace an existing unlimited exemption for all seniors 65 and older that went into effect in 2016 and will sunset in 2021.

That exemption was expected to cost the school district an additional $1.2 million per year over existing exemptions; however, it cost an extra $3.5 million in reduced revenues in 2019, and an estimated $5.7 million in 2020.

To make up the shortfall, the district raised the millage rate from 18.66 to 20.25 and reduced some services.

– The City Commission will consider an amendment to a quitclaim deed conveying the property for Fifth Avenue Upper Elementary to City Schools of Decatur.

“The deed includes a reversionary clause that would result in the property ownership reverting back to the City in the event the property ceases to be used for public school purposes,” City Manager Arnold said in a memo to commissioners. “(All of the conveyance deeds for the school properties contain this same reversionary provision.) The deed for the Fifth Avenue School contains an exception to the reversionary clause that was required in order to allow for financing of a capital project on the property. The exception is specific in naming the financing partner for the certificates of participation (COPS) financing, the Georgia School Board Association (GSBA). The Board of Education is in the process of refinancing the COPS issuance, which will result in a net present value savings of over $1.4 million over the next 17 years. The quitclaim deed needs to be amended to extend the exception to the refinancing transaction, which involves the Georgia Municipal Association, rather than the GSBA, and Truist Bank, the lender.”

– City Commissioners are holding their annual retreat virtually on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8. Access instructions and an agenda haven’t been published yet. The meeting also isn’t listed on the city’s website.

Writer Sara Amis contributed to this story.

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