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Decatur City Commission considering purchase of property along Commerce Drive

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Decatur City Commission considering purchase of property along Commerce Drive

FILE PHOTO: The Decatur City Commission met on Monday, June 6, at City Hall to discuss items including the racial equity plan and the downtown master plan. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur City Commission at its June 21 meeting will consider spending $600,000 to purchase property along Commerce Drive.

The meeting starts with a work session at 6:30 p.m. about the city’s missing middle housing policy. The regular meeting starts at 7:30 p.m.

Here are the attendance instructions:

This meeting will be held in-person. Members of the public wishing to participate during either the “Public Comment” or “Requests and Petitions” portions of the meeting may attend the meeting in one of two ways:

1. Attend in-person by coming to Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough St.

2. Register in advance by clicking here. 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.)

NOTE – This meeting will utilize virtual meeting technology. We cannot guarantee it will operate as planned. If your participation must be a matter of public record, attend the meeting in person or email your comments to City Manager Andrea Arnold at [email protected] by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21st.

Members of the public may also view the live broadcast of the Decatur City Commission meeting at https://www.decaturga.com/citycommission/page/streaming-video

The city intends to purchase property at 600 and 604 Commerce Drive, according to the memo attached to the city commission meeting agenda. One of the potential uses would be to model affordable-housing within a single family neighborhood.

“The property purchase includes two adjoining lots totaling .64 acre at the corner of Commerce Drive and East Ponce de Leon Avenue. The property contains one single family home and the rest of the property is undeveloped with mature trees and other vegetation,” the memo from City Manager Andrea Arnold says. “Acquisition of this highly visible property on the eastern edge of the downtown business district will afford the City the opportunity to advance multiple goals, including the preservation of greenspace as well as the potential to model attainable housing in a single family neighborhood. Funds are available in the General Fund to cover the cost of the purchase.”

Arnold said the city is still weighing what to do with the property.

“No decisions have been made about its future use; and we’ll engage with the surrounding neighbors prior to making any final decisions,” she said.

In other business:

– The city commission will hold a public hearing about its budget and millage rates.

The Decatur City Commission is considering lowering the millage rate by 0.75 mills. During a work session on June 8, City Manager Arnold recommended lowering the millage rate from 13.92 mills to 13.17 mills.

For a fair market value home that is $500,000 and had no change in property value from 2021 to 2022, the property owner would pay $3,193.50 in taxes if the city’s millage rate stays at 13.92 mills. The property owner would pay $3,018.25 in taxes if the millage rate is lowered to 13.17.

“The city has already advertised a 5.86% tax increase based on the tentative millage rate of 13.92 mills that was adopted May 16,” Arnold said.

The lower millage rate would only affect taxes property owners pay to the city of Decatur.

The revised FY 21-22 budget, which is the current fiscal year, expects the city will receive about $29.6 million in general fund revenue and spend the same amount. The revised FY 21-22 budget is about $369,000 less than the adopted FY 21-22 budget.

The FY 22-23 budget anticipates the city will receive about $32.6 million in general fund revenue and will spend the same amount. The proposed FY 22-23 budget is about $3 million higher than the revised FY 21-22 budget. To balance the budget based on predicted revenues and expenditures, city staff recommend using about $3.8 million in fund balance from the general fund.

The city commission adopted the tentative millage rate of 13.92 mills in May, and the proposed FY 22-23 was built based on an anticipated 5% increase in the tax digest.

The 2022 real property tax digest from DeKalb came in at a 10.92% increase, which is a total increase of about $266 million. About 33% of the digest is new value and 67% is from revaluations. The tax digest is 23% commercial, an increase from 21% last year, and 77% residential.

Arnold proposed a lower millage rate of 13.17 mills, which would generate about the same amount of revenue estimated in the budget. The lower rate, however, is slightly higher than the city’s rollback rate, which is 13.149 mills.

“That roughly brings in the same amount of revenue that was estimated assuming 13.92 mills and a 5% increase in the digest,” Arnold said. “To be really specific, I got to the three-quarters of a mill decrease, the revenues about $70,000 less than what was being generated with my earlier calculations.”

The city has not made any changes to the homestead tax exemptions in 2022. Arnold said she would like the city to look at expanding the city’s homestead tax exemption in 2023 and possibly look at the city’s tax payment deferral program.

To view the homestead exemptions, click here.

To view the budget documents, click here.

For our previous story about the city’s budget and millage rate, click here.

Reporter Zoe Seiler contributed to this story. 

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