The increase, approved during the Cartersville City Council’s Thursday night meeting, is in step with the council’s scheduled move to a 100 percent exemption. While the increase will not take effect until January 2014, and a full exemption is not predicted until 2016, Mayor Matt Santini believed the gradual rolling back of the Freeport tax was a boon to the city.
“But I can tell you the fact that we’re on that schedule, and that it’s known by the state economic developers, the fact that we’re simply on that track, even though we’re not to 100, but the fact that we’re heading there is benefitting us,” he said during the council’s work session.
Santini said the yearly 20 percent exemption increases were attractive for businesses, as they could plan their construction and business plans around the regular increases. In one example, Santini said a business might start construction in the middle of one year and open the next so that it could take advantage of a higher exemption percentage.
One of the keys to the increased Freeport exemptions, Santini added after the meeting, was the Cartersville School Board’s cooperation in approving the exemption increases before the city council voted on the issue.
“The school system would be ... we approached them about whether or not they would be receptive to increasing Freeport [exemptions] and understanding that if businesses aren’t locating here it’s not going to increase the tax base, and they get a much larger percentage of the tax base than the city management operation does, and they were receptive to it,” Santini said.
During its meeting, the council also discussed amending the fine schedule for city ordinances. Finance Director Tom Rhinehart said Harry White, Cartersville’s municipal court judge, was concerned the city’s minimum fines on some ordinances were too high.
The council had previously set the minimum fine amounts during a July 2012 meeting. Council member Kari Hodge and Santini questioned the rationale behind lowering the fine amounts White had recommended last year when he worked with a committee on adjusting the fines.
“I’m guessing that if he is the one who has to impose those fines ... he’s probably seen actual situations where he might not fine the particular person as much as the ordinance requires,” said City Attorney David Archer.
Archer then clarified that White was asking for the minimum amount to be lowered, but the judge would still be able to impose any fine amount he wished up to approximately $1,000.
As the fine amendment was seeing only its first reading, the council will take the issue up again during its next meeting.
The council also approved the repair of 13 speakers for five different warning sirens across the city. Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter said each siren had six to nine speakers on them, and that all five sirens needing repair still worked. However, since those sirens did have at least one bad speaker, they were not working at their full capacity. The amount approved came to $16,537.72.
Other city council business included:
• Amending the streets and sidewalks ordinance in reference to sign reflectivity testing methods and procedures.
• Approving the creation of a no parking zone on Puckett Street between Tennessee and Stonewall streets.
• Amending the alcohol ordinance in reference to standardizing identification requirements.
• Approving a quit claim deed for 11 Barrett Lane.
• Approving a subordination agreement for 73 Mercer Lane.
• Appointing a grant administrator to the North Towne Grant Program.
• Approving a telecommunication management service agreement with the Georgia Municipal Association in the amount of $5,000.
• Updating an intergovernmental agreement with Bartow County on the collection of ad valorem taxes.
• Approving a user agreement with Georgia Highlands College.
• Approving the purchase of fencing for the Dellinger Park pool from Cartersville Fencing in the amount of $11,168.18.
• Approving the purchase of electrical materials for Dellinger Park in the total sum of $5,476.65.
• Approving the purchase of 200 recycling containers for Cartersville Public Works in the sum of $8,050.
• Approving the abatement of asbestos floor tile in the municipal court building in the amount of $5,610.
• Approving the purchase of six heavy vehicle lifts for the city’s garage in the amount of $52,980.
• Approving the time change for the city’s Civic Youth Day to March 21, with the city council meeting early at 9 a.m. on that date.
• Approving a change order to the Etowah River emergency pump station for a heavier intake pipe in the amount of $99,863.
• Hearing the December 2012 monthly financial statement.
The Cartersville City Council will meet today at 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the training room at the Public Safety Headquarters on Cassville Road for its annual visioning session. The council will hold a second visioning session Saturday, Feb. 23, at 9 a.m. to noon at the same location.