Tucker City Council tackles millage, parks contracts at special called meeting

Tucker City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — Tucker’s millage rate for the fiscal year 2023 is rolling back from 0.900 to 0.848, providing the city with more capital and homeowners with a little relief. Tucker City Council voted unanimously to pass the new millage rate at a special called meeting on June 27.

The tax revenue produced from Tucker’s millage rate provides $2.1 million to the general fund. 

While Tucker and several other cities are rolling back their millage rate, Mayor Frank Auman cautioned residents to pay attention to DeKalb County’s millage rate. 

“The county’s decision not to rollback amounts to about a 7% tax increase. I believe the school board is also not rolling back, and it amounts to an excess of 14% tax increase to the school board. They’re going to have public hearings … I would certainly encourage you all to make yourselves heard on those issues,” said Auman. 

DeKalb County will hold a public hearing on millage on June 28 at 6 p.m., and July 12 at 10 a.m.   

Resident Donald Hipps was the only speaker during the public hearing. 

“As far as the millage rate goes, a cut in millage rate only benefits the homeowners – which I am one – but it really benefits the ones with a greater assessment value,” said Hipps. “I’m just wondering if it’s possible it can be prorated by the assessment value of the property, or the income of the resident.”

The city council voted on three contracts for parks and recreation for project management, pool services and park maintenance. All were approved unanimously by council members. 

A contract with Griffith Project Management is being renewed. The city did not immediately provide a contract amount. 

“Having somebody that can directly focus on those capital projects helps us stay on time, on schedule, on budget,” said Parks and Recreation Director Rip Robertson. 

A contract with Swim Atlanta to service city pools was renewed in the amount of $50,700. Swim Atlanta manages daily operation and lifeguards at Tucker pools. 

A contract with OpTech was extended with an increase from $560,000 to $777,145 to add three staff members. OpTech has maintained parks, facilities and sports fields in Tucker since 2018. The city started with 12 parks and has grown to 17 parks and greenspaces, with possible additions in 2022-2023.

Robertson said parks and recreation has picked up duties like downtown trash collection that has been missed by DeKalb County and new projects, including the streetscape project on First Avenue and Fourth Street. 

“We’ve asked OpTech to pick up some of that. But one of the things that needs to happen is to expand or change [OpTech’s] scope. Until the new council gets a chance to actually talk about what that’s going to look like, I’m asking for just an extension of this one year so that we can get those details hammered out,” said Robertson. “We’re growing like crazy.” 

Robertson said the addition of Rosenfeld Park, Church Street Park, the downtown trail and Henderson Park athletic fields demand an increase in staff. 

Tucker Planning and Zoning Director Courtney Smith presented a first read on a text amendment to the city code. Smith said minor changes to code will allow child daycare centers in a place of worship to be operated by a third party. 

Turning Son preschool entered into a contract with Eastminster Presbyterian Church to take over their programming.

“Unfortunately, not realizing the limitations of the zoning district and the definition of place of worship, students enrolled there,” said Smith. “This text amendment meets the overall intent, but we needed to clean up the code to allow it.” 

A lot of churches are struggling at this time, Smith said. Councilmember Alexis Weaver asked if non-Christian places of worship were considered, and Smith said yes. A second read of the code amendment is scheduled for July 11. 

Heather Adams, owner of several Turning Sun locations, said the preschool at Eastminster Presbyterian Church was in operation for 50 years but failed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several members of the Eastminster Presbyterian Church and Turning Sun communities spoke in favor of the change at the planning commission meeting on June 16. 

The next city council meeting is July 11. 

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