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Tucker moves forward on public works, comprehensive plan

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Tucker moves forward on public works, comprehensive plan

FILE PHOTO: L to R on top photo: TamiHanlin, Alexis Weaver, Cara Schroeder, Roger Orlando, Frank Auman, Anne Lerner, Noelle Monferdini, Virginia Rece. Photo by Sara Amis

Tucker, GA — The Tucker city council conducted a first read of two ordinances at a work session on March 27. One ordinance will create a stormwater utility as part of the new public works department, while the other will amend the city charter to raise the city’s millage rate cap to 3 mills.

Voters approved both changes in November 2022, supporting a referendum to allow Tucker to take over public works from DeKalb County by a healthy margin.

Mayor Frank Auman clarified that the changes don’t alter the normal process for determining millage rates, and that just because the cap is raised didn’t mean the millage rate would go up. 

“The change to the charter will raise the allowable millage rate, but we’ll actually decide on the millage rate separately as part of the budgeting process like we always do,” said Auman.

City Attorney Ted Baggett said that in creating a stormwater utility, Tucker is creating a service, the funding mechanism, and an enterprise fund dedicated to stormwater management.  

Baggett said that the ordinance ties the fee to the impervious surface of a given property, which directly affects the amount of runoff the property creates. Baggett said that this is in line with surrounding communities. 

Auman said at the beginning of the meeting that the city has many decisions to make in the next few months, including approving a city budget. In light of that, Auman announced that all city council meetings through July, including those originally scheduled as work sessions, will be regular meetings where city business will be conducted and voted on. 

In other business:

— The first public hearing of the 2023 Tucker Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan update was held during the work session. Comprehensive plans must be updated every five years, and this will be the first one since the city was formed and will be conducted by the Sizemore Group.

The focus of this update will be revisiting and revising the city’s community work program, which is an element required by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. 

Project manager Deanna Murphy offered an overview of the process. A community survey will be available online throughout the month of April. Two community meetings will be held; the first will be during Spring Fling on April 15. The second community meeting will be held on May 4.

A second public hearing will be held May 8.

Murphy said that the goal is to be done by June 30, which will allow the city to meet deadlines for funding.  

— Deputy City Manager John McHenry presented an update on Tucker’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).  Tucker’s current six-year SPLOST generated $5 million per year and will expire in March 2024.

A new SPLOST bill has already passed in the Georgia legislature, and the next step is for the city council to create an ordinance calling for a referendum to be voted on by the public in November 2023. That referendum, by law, must include a project list, to be determined by the city council.

The recommendation is that at least 65% of the revenue be spent on roads and drainage, and 20% for multimodal transportation including sidewalks, paths, and bikeways. A maximum of 15% can be spent on capital outlay projects such as parks and public facilities. The SPLOST funds can also be spent on fire facilities and citywide safety equipment, with no specified amount.  This is substantially similar to the formula for the SPLOST approved in 2017.

— Preparing for a vote at the city council’s next regular meeting on April 10, KB Advisory Group offered a final update of the Economic Development Strategic Plan.

The plan includes an analysis of Tucker’s demographics and other existing characteristics, and a depiction of the community’s strengths and weaknesses based on community feedback.

Recommendations include economic development capacity building by improving the city’s economic development department, instituting a business attraction and retention program, creating a priority list of projects, expanding workforce development and other business development programs, and marketing Tucker as an attractive place to live and do business.

— Charles DeWitt was sworn in as a member of the Tucker Downtown Development Authority board of directors.

— Auman announced two new city employees, code enforcement officer Calden Ford and city planner Matthew Couper.

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