The council voted 4-1, with Council member Liz Baxter opposing, to approve the budget, which is set at $30.7 million. Council member Chris Casdia was not present.
That’s an increase from the fiscal year 2012 budget of $27.5 million.
The third reading reflected changes the council wanted to include in the budget, such as using $101,571 to pay off police department software, $60,000 to install the hardware to prepare for fiber connectivity throughout the city and $40,049 in streets repairs.
Those changes increased the city’s general fund budget to $15.3 million, up slightly from the current $15.2 million.
The overall budget went up due to an additional $3 million in the water and sewer fund.
The city is expecting $1.09 million in bond proceeds it can use to make upgrades to its grit chamber and filter at the waste water treatment plant.
It also budgeted for an across-the-board 3 percent wholesale water rate increase, which the city is passing along from Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority.
Cobb implemented a program that has an 8 percent rate increase effective each Jan. 1.
The city is proposing the 3 percent increase to keep up with the wholesale rates and to eliminate its cost adjustment charge structure for water and sewer customers.
It’s also using $350,000 in reserves to fund water well exploration.
The fiscal year 2013 budget was set to initially absorb half of the 4.76 percent decline in the city’s property tax digest.
However, the council approved the budget based on its intention to raise its current millage rate of 7.29 mills to the “revenue neutral” millage rate of 7.862 mills.
State revenue rollback calculation allows the city to raise its rate to any point below the revenue neutral rate to be recognized as a revenue tax decrease.
A house valued at $200,000, with the standard $5,000 exemption pays about $545 in city property taxes under the current rate.
The average homeowner who saw its property values decline would see no change in its upcoming property tax bill as the increase would offset the decline in the digest.
In other business, the council approved a request from Residential Group, LLC to rezone 17.5 acres of property along Highway 92 between Main Street and Laurelwood Drive from downtown commercial and low density residential to downtown multi-family residential.
The company plans to build a roughly 286-unit apartment complex on the property.
It also approved moving forward with a proposal from Ameris Bank to provide a $2 million loan to fund a portion of the city’s grid network.
The streets would be constructed in relation to Walton Communities Properties’ residential project.
The loan amount would be for $2 million with an interest rate of 2.1 percent. It would also include a $1,000 closing fee.
The council also:
* Swore in reserve officer Richard Wildermuth;
* Approved request from Steve Bankes to remove a condition of zoning for his property at 123 Brendylnn Trace, which would allow him to move a fence closer to his property further back to tie into an existing fence;
* Approved a request from Rashmit Loomba for a conditional permit for property at 9533 Main Street; the property is zoned downtown commercial mixed use and Loomba’s request for a permit would be to operate a recreational facility with some educational components;
* Denied a conditional use permit request from Bison Tires, LLC for commercial property at 9420 Highway 92 to have an auto tire retail and repair operation;
* Approved the second reading to confirm extending the apartment moratorium in the Ridgewalk area;
* Approved reimbursing Council members Liz Baxter $367.14 and Bud Leonard $434.07 for meals and mileage from the Georgia Municipal Association’s annual convention in Savannah;
* Approved 4-1, with Council member Bob Mueller opposing, extending its senior living zoning for 9.67 acres on Neese Road near Highway 92 for an additional nine months;
* Reviewed changing the city’s budget amendment policy;
* Approved a lease agreement with Hot Dog Heaven;
* Announced it will hold a joint work session with the Downtown Development Authority at 6 p.m. July 23 at the Chambers at City Center;
* Moved to executive session to discuss real estate, personnel and property acquisition;
* After it reconvened into regular session, the council voted to authorize staff to enter into a contract to complete the construction of a retaining wall for property at 137 and 139 Woodberry Court in an amount not to exceed $20,000; the city will place a lien on the property and if expenses are not paid, they will begin with foreclosure proceedings; and
* Denied an appeal from Georgia Northeastern Railroad to consider approval of its sign permit request.