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Avondale Estates City Commission appoints new city clerk

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Avondale Estates City Commission appoints new city clerk

City of Avondale Estates. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Avondale Estates, GA — The Avondale Estates City Commission, at its Nov. 29 regular meeting, appointed a new city clerk.

Karina Reyna has been hired as the city clerk. Under the city’s charter, the city manager hires the city clerk, but the appointment has to be ratified by the city commission.

“Karina comes to us from the city of Sandy Springs, where she served in the role of assistant city clerk. Prior to her experience at the city of Sandy Springs, Karina served as the deputy city clerk for the city of Doraville. She also was an administrative assistant in their parks and rec division prior to that,” City Manager Patrick Bryant said.

In other business:

– The city commission held the first reading of the 2024 operating budget and the 2024-2025 capital program. The budget documents also include the city’s fee schedule. The commission will hold the second reading and vote at its next meeting.

The draft 2024 operating budget proposes about $5.4 million in revenue and expenditures. The city anticipates receiving about $4 million in property tax revenue in 2024.

The operating budget expenditures include a 4% cost of living adjustment for city staff and a bond payment for the Town Green.

The budget also plans for a transfer of $228,657 from the general fund to the capital fund, which is a decrease from the amended 2023 budget. This year, the city transferred about $404,000 to the capital fund.

The capital budget will begin in 2024 with about $5.7 million in revenue. The city anticipates receiving about $12.7 million in revenue for the capital projects budget in 2024 and 2025 bringing the total revenue to about $18.4 million.

There are a few different funding sources that make up the capital project budget. Avondale Estates still has all of its American Rescue Plan Act funding available. The city received about $1.2 million in APRA funding. The budget proposes spending about $1.15 million of the city’s APRA funds.

The stormwater fund is anticipated to begin 2024 with about $766,000. The city will receive additional stormwater fund revenue in 2024 and 2025, bringing the stormwater fund to about $1.2 million. The total expenditures in the stormwater fund add up to about $1.2 million.

Funding from the special purpose local option sales tax is also included in the capital projects budget. SPLOST I will expire in March, and SPLOST II will begin in April.

SPLOST I projects are limited to transportation and public safety. SPLOST I projects include paying the remaining balance of a contract for security cameras and door security systems at city facilities, repaving Pine Street, and creating a parking area on CSX right of way on Pine Street.

For SPLOST II, the city anticipates receiving about $4.3 million in funding and is expecting to get another $2 million in intergovernmental revenue from DeKalb County. The city can use SPLOST II road or stormwater infrastructure. The budget proposes spending about $6.3 million in SPLOST II funding.

The final revenue source for the capital projects budget is the capital fund. The grant funding the city has received for the U.S. 278 complete street project is in the capital fund.

“The revenue sources into this fund are coming from general fund transfers at year-end, the unassigned fund balance transfer that the [city commission] authorized in the previous year, and grant reimbursements,” Bryant previously said. The budget proposes anticipates about $9.2 million in revenue and proposes about $8.6 million in expenditures.

– The city commission did not approve an easement with Georgia Power but plans to consider the resolution again at a future meeting. The commission is considering an underground easement with Georgia Power at the Town Green for underground lines, a pole and a transformer box. The utility would provide power to the commercial development.

Commissioners raised concerns about where the utility would be located at the Town Green and requested more information about the exact location and a drawing that is to scale. The transformer would be on concrete, near the market pavilion and about 10 feet away from where the building will be built.

The Avondale Estates City Commission is considering granting an easement to Georgia Power at the Town Green. Photo courtesy of the city of Avondale Estates.

– During the work session, the city commission continued discussing the creation of a special service district.

The revenue total in the 2024 operating budget plans for a special service district that would encompass all of downtown Avondale. An additional tax levy would be placed on the properties in that district, and all revenue would service stormwater and transportation projects in the central business district.

The city anticipates the revenue generated next year would be about $276,000, if the special service district is created and a millage rate is levied.

The city commission has contemplated a three-mill levy, but the millage rate would not be set until June, when the city’s millage rate is set. Currently, the city commission is considering whether it wants to create the special service district.

If the city wants a special service district to generate revenue next year, it has to establish the boundaries of the district before the end of the year. The proposed boundary is downtown Avondale.

At the last work session, a few alternatives were suggested by residents and business owners, such as a blight tax. But the blight tax would not necessarily generate additional revenue for the city, but would be an incentive for property owners to improve their properties.

City Attorney Stephen Quinn said the blight tax is also known as a redevelopment tax incentive program. State law allows for an increased millage rate for blighted property.

“It’s an incentive program to eliminate blight, not a revenue program,” Quinn said. “The property must be an ‘endangerment to public or safety.’ Think of a dilapidated building. It’s definitely not a vacant lot or an underutilized vacant property, and it’s not a district situation that the board or the city manager declares.”

The city would have to initiate an action in municipal court with a property owner to show that a property was blighted and how it would endanger public health or safety. If the city was successful, the property would be added to a list of blighted properties in which an additional millage would be applied.

“Once a property is established to be blighted, it pays an extra tax, but the ordinance must establish a standard through which the property owner can prove that blight has been remediated on the property,” Quinn said. “Once the owner proves that the formerly blighted property is no longer blighted, not only does the additional millage come off, but we have to give them a discount on their property tax for a period of time as like a reward for getting rid of their blight.”

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