Tucker tackles taxes at last meeting of the fiscal year

The Tucker City Council at its June 28 meeting. Photo by Logan Ritchie

Tucker, GA — Tucker City Council held a special called meeting and work session on June 28, finishing out the fiscal year by wrapping up financial business. Council members unanimously approved to maintain the 0.9 millage rate, which raises property taxes by 6.38 percent over the rollback millage rate due to DeKalb County’s increase in projected revenues.

Three public hearings on the tax changes were held by the city. Resident and Tucker Zoning Board of Appeals member Neil Stubblefield spoke at a hearing, stating the “miniscule” increase is a testament to good governance in Tucker, and is attracting people to the city.

“Everybody wants to come to Tucker now that we have … appreciation in the tax digest. It floats all boats,” said Stubblefield.

Tucker’s largest own-source revenue comes from business and occupation taxes paid to the city. Four percent, or 140 businesses, still have until June 30 to pay taxes said Finance Director Robert Porche. City staff is working with businesses to “get them into compliance,” he said.

In more budget news, Porche presented a first read of an amendment to the FY21 budget. The largest change is putting $400,000 toward improvements at Flintstone Road and Hugh Howell Road. Near the new Smoke Rise Elementary school, the estimated $1 million project will improve road safety by creating a traffic signal, turn lanes and pedestrian crossings. Tucker Summit CID contributed $100,000 for the project.

Updates to the FY21 budget include: Probst Memorial contributions now total $81,200; DeKalb County contributed $98,760 to preserve the building at Johns Homestead Park; and Tucker Northlake CID contributed $20,000 toward the Downtown Master Plan. A second read is planned for July 12.

City attorney Brian Anderson delivered a first read of an ordinance to allow Norcross Power to provide electricity to a new Publix store located at Hugh Howell and Mountain Industrial Boulevard. An agreement with Publix, scheduled to open Aug. 1, will bring provide a modest revenue source for Tucker according to a memo by Tucker staff.

Georgia law allows customers using loads of 900 KW or more the right to choose an electric provider. Anderson’s memo states Norcross has been supplying power to WalMart at Cofer Crossing since 1996 but because city of Tucker was unaware, fees cannot be collected retroactively.

School districts and cities are beginning to plan for American Rescue Plan funds. Assistant City Manager John McHenry said of the $4 billion Georgia will receive, Tucker anticipates between $10 to $13 million. The amount distributed cannot exceed 75 percent of the city’s general fund budget.

The first tranche, or allotment, was expected to be announced June 30, said Mayor Frank Auman. Tucker received $4.1 million in CARES Act funding in 2020, which the city used for public health, food insecurity, housing assistance, virtual learning and helping small businesses. This is different, said Auman, because American Rescue Plan encourages infrastructure recovery.

Auman said the city is “in creative mode,” planning how to spend the American Rescue Plan funds. Some programs under consideration include widespread broadband, studying stormwater deficiencies and redevelopment to address housing needs.

In other news:

– Council members approved two contracts for Parks and Recreation improvements. Cornatzer and Associates, Inc. will install lighting at a Henderson Park for $180,911 to increase tournament play and league programming. A1 Sign Company will update entrance signage at parks for $130,000. Parks and Rec Director Rip Robertson said it will take a couple of years to replace all the signs.

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