By Monroe Roark
will see another year with no city property taxes.
The City Council
unanimously approved a 5.189-mill rollback for 2013, and Mayor
Mark Alarcon cited local option sales tax revenue as the primary
reason the city is able to do this.
“The city has been able
to provide all necessary services, while also expanding and
offering new services and fully staff City Hall without levying
property taxes,” said Alarcon.
He went on to point out
several new businesses that are providing more than 150 jobs
within the city limits in the coming year, and even a particular
business that was unable to relocate within the city but was
assisted by city staff and council members in finding a suitable
location just outside the city limits, which is still a plus for
the county and the city.
When the total digest of
taxable property is prepared, state law requires that a rollback
millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total
revenue on the current year’s new digest that last year’s
millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.
If city officials had
chosen to set its millage rate higher than the rollback rate,
the move would have required three public hearings and various
According to the office
of Henry County Tax Commissioner David Curry, the net taxable
value of the 2013 tax digest for Stockbridge amounts to just
under $640 million.
The council’s other big
financial move Monday night was to approve a $1 million loan to
the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), payable over 30 years.
A separate motion authorized the transfer of the money from the
city’s reserve fund for this purpose.
City officials noted that
this action was consistent with recent moves giving the DDA
increased power to make decisions impacting local businesses and
the downtown area in general.
These votes passed 4-0,
with Councilperson Alphonso Thomas announcing that he was
abstaining. He stated no conflict of interest or any other
reason typically associated with a decision to abstain from a
vote. Thomas also abstained without comment from the council’s
4-0 vote approving the authorization of the DDA to enact an
agreement for cultural and leisure services at the city’s
As part of the meeting’s
consent agenda, the council moved to lease the old police
station building, the Merle Manders Conference Center management
building, the Ted Strickland Community Center, the Multiplex,
and a portion of the parking lot at the city’s Public Works
Building to the DDA.
Three organizations were
approved for funding under the city’s Community Partnership
Grant Program: Academy Theatre ($15,000); DDJ Event Promotions
LLC ($5,000); and Greater Atlanta Comic Con ($10,000).
The council OK’d a
memorandum of understanding with Academy Theatre, which is
working to present a festival of short plays in conjunction with
this fall’s Bridgefest event, to help that organization in its
quest for additional grant funding.
Thomas cast the lone
dissenting vote on this item, saying that he liked what the
theatre group was doing but felt the city should have working
harder to find a group based in Stockbridge or Henry County.
Academy Theatre is based in Avondale Estates in DeKalb County,
A half-marathon in
conjunction with Bridgefest is the goal of DDJ Event
Productions, and the city approved a contract with that
organization toward that end. City manager David Milliron stated
that DDJ is operating as a not-for-profit organization and has
designated all proceeds from the race to be donated to
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The Community Partnership
Grant covers only a small portion of DDJ’s expenses for the
The city’s existing
ordinance regarding parades was repealed and replaced with a
newer set of regulations. Milliron called the old ordinance
“unconstitutionally vague.” Thomas cast the lone dissenting vote
The council repealed
another ordinance Milliron said was outdated, this time
regarding street and sidewalk vendors and portable eating
“Times have changed since
this ordinance was enacted,” said Milliron, noting that the
current regulation and licensing of food establishments makes it
unnecessary and even a potential threat to certain food-related
special events sponsored by churches and civic organizations.
cited a recent event in which a Stockbridge business invited a
food truck from a well-known Atlanta restaurant, and said that
technically it could have earned a citation under the outdated
ordinance. He did not mention the business by name, but Moye’s
Pharmacy hosted a Varsity food truck during lunch time one day
The final council action
of the evening was an amendment to the sanitation ordinance
calling for a $25 one-time fee per pickup of special large items
such as furniture and appliances.
Milliron called this
proposal a compromise, saying that the city is not legally
authorized to collect such items and doing so could result in
OSHA violations or injuries to employees. However, he recognized
that if the city does not do something, people will often simply
dump the items.
The new fee is far lower
than any reasonable alternatives, Milliron said, because the
transfer station in Stockbridge is a private for-profit business
but the city pays a special municipal rate. The next nearest
option for disposal of such items is the Clayton County
landfill, he added.
“Stockbridge still has the lowest
sanitation rate on the south side of Atlanta,” said Milliron
just before the council’s unanimous vote to approve the new fee.