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Avondale Estates City Commission discusses creating a special service district for Town Green

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Avondale Estates City Commission discusses creating a special service district for Town Green

The Avondale Estates City Commission discussed the 2024 operating and capital budgets, creating a greenspace committee and an annexation request during its work session on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission, during its Oct. 11 work session, continued discussing the 2024 operating budget and capital program. The city is also considering creating a special service district that would generate revenue for the Town Green. 

The draft 2024 operating budget proposes about $5.3 million in revenue and expenditures.

The revenue total for 2024 includes a special service district that would encompass all of downtown Avondale. A three-mill levy would be placed on the properties in that district, and all revenue would service the Town Green.

“Based on current [tax] digest, the projected revenues from the implementation of that SSD would be approximately $275,000, which is projected to be a little more than half of the expected debt service payment on the Town Green upon the issuing of the bonds to cover the bond anticipation note,” City Manager Patrick Bryant said.

The revenue raised through the special service district has to be spent for a specific purpose in the district, in this case, that would be the payment for the development of the Town Green.

The city commission first discussed the potential of creating a special service district during its strategic planning session on Aug. 31. It would be a way for the city to diversify its revenue.

Cities can create a special service district through an ordinance to raise revenue for a specific purpose. Avondale Estates is considering a special service district for the Town Green.

“We know that infrastructure in the downtown that we provide significantly benefits the property owners within the district. For example, the Town Green is a huge benefit to property owners located within the district because it improves their property value,” Bryant said at the strategic planning session.

Currently, the interest the city pays on the Town Green comes from property taxes, so residents are mainly paying the debt.

“If the business community is also benefitting from that infrastructure, how do we engineer a mechanism by which the commercial properties pay their fair share of that infrastructure?” Bryant said. “The way to do that is through the special service district establishment.”

The central business district would be the special service district. The Town Green is within the city’s central business district, and it would be the special service the district is providing revenue for.

“You could place an additional levy on the properties that exist within that boundary and that additional levy would be captured and solely go to the special service for which that levy is placed, and that special service would be the Town Green,” Bryant said. “That way, you could more evenly split the payment of debt service on the Town Green between residential and commercial properties.”

The city staff has proposed an additional levy of three mills for the special service district. If the city commission moves forward with creating the district, it will likely be established before the end of the year. However, the millage rate would not be set until June 2024.

In other business:

– The city commission also discussed the greenspace advisory committee, which will replace the tree, lake, and arboretum boards. Assistant City Manager Shannon Powell presented recommendations for the makeup of the committee, its organizational structure and its duties.

The committee would be five members – with the option to add honorary members and subcommittees as needed – and they would serve two-year terms. The honorary members would be non-voting members, the committee could bring in another area of expertise.

“We’re looking for people with education and backgrounds in landscape architecture, park planning, landscape design, horticulture, master gardeners, tree experience, environmental management, environmental engineering, or any related field that [the city commission] thinks would be appropriate within the context,” Powell said.

Commissioner Dee Merriam suggested the city also look at people who have experience in stormwater.

In terms of the organizational structure, the committee would meet quarterly in person, follow Robert’s Rules of Order, post agendas and meeting minutes, and the meetings would be open to the public.

The committee would be responsible for helping with public education and outreach related to greenspace. They would also provide recommendations and reports to the city manager related to greenspace initiatives and Lake Avondale. The committee would also make recommendations to the city commission on proposed memorials or special matters. They’d also be called to help with community-wide planting and landscaping events.

“This goes to both the city manager and [the city commission], which is comments and review of city parks and recreational needs and design, as well as any improvements to other parks,” Powell said.

– The city has also received an annexation petition from Joe Gargiulo for the property he owns at 718 Dalerose Avenue in Decatur. The property is located off College Avenue near the Waffle House Museum.

“We are asking to be annexed because this will provide an opportunity to build an affordable housing community,” Gargiulo wrote in a letter to the city manager dated Sept. 11.

According to the application, the current zoning is R-75 and the proposed zoning is CBD-2 (Central Business District 2).

TBG Residential is the developer of the project. TBG Residential previously proposed constructing a 66-unit senior affordable housing development at 2804 Franklin Street, 2816 Franklin Street, and 154 Olive Street.

The city approved a conditional use permit for the development at the April 28, 2021, board meeting, and approved a variance for the project as recently as May 25, 2022. However, the city commission voted, in June 2022, to declare the city’s intent to use eminent domain to acquire property at 154 Olive Street, and 2804 and 2816 Franklin Street for city street and public transportation purposes.

The city plans to use the right-of-way to build New Street and extend Washington Street as part of the city’s street grid plan.

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