The proposed 308-acre, mixed-use Four A development could potentially bring a huge tax revenue influx into the City of Conyers — something the city desperately needs — but hasl also raised a number of concerns.
After tabling a decision to rezone the property, located between Iris Drive, Johnson Road and Flat Shoals Road, city council members on Wednesday, also hinted at a looming millage rate increase to meet the shortfall in tax revenue and keep the city operating with a bare-bones budget.
Four A development
The city’s approval of a zoning change for the property met strong opposition during the council’s meeting, with several property owners who oppose the development citing traffic, infrastructure, school and crime issues. For now, the development will stay on the drawing board where it has been since the Four A International purchased the 800-plus acre property in 1982, and the plans for a commercial area surrounded by multi-family and single-family homes will be considered again at the city’s June 5 meeting.
The developers have scheduled a public information session for Thursday, May 23, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to provide additional information to residents who have voiced opposition due to a lack of public knowledge about the developer’s specific plan. The meeting will be held at Corner Market Meeting House, which is located at the intersection of Johnson and Parker roads and is the first phase of the Four A developments.
The council ended the meeting with the discussion of the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget, which is $13,364,070, an increase of $484,341 over the current year. To collect the funds needed to maintain a balanced budget, city officials anticipate increasing the millage rate from 9.9 to 14.9 in order to receive the necessary revenue to operate the city. Council members were quick to point out, however, that the millage rate hike will not necessarily mean an increase in amount of taxes paid for most homeowners due to the decline in property values.
“This is unprecedented,” Council member Gerald Hinesley said Wednesday night. “What we are talking about now — if we don’t do something pretty drastic — you are talking about cutting people and cutting services."
City officials cite the decrease in property assessments, meaning the decrease in tax revenue, and the decrease in permitting fees as the key reasons for the millage rate increase.
Of the city’s $13,364,070 budget, 48 percent is spent on public safety, 25 percent is spent on public works, 15 percent is spent on general government and 12 percent is spent on culture and recreation (all city parks). In recent years the city has trimmed every department’s budgets and to balance the budget this year the city must freeze 11 open positions to save $545,000, discontinue paying education benefits to employees to save $72,000 and not fill positions that may be vacated by retirement or resignation to save another $75,000.
The city council will hold another public hearing before adopting the FY2014 budget on June 5. Public hearings to officially set the millage rate will then be held in July.