Prior to Hiram City council’s regular session on October 6, public hearings were held on setting the 2015-16 millage rate and to review the tax digest, and another was held on changing the method of calculating occupational taxes to a gross receipts/profitability method and the fiscal impact for the city and for businesses. Both items were on the council’s meeting agenda for a vote after hearing comments from local business owners, residents and visitors. The council later approved both items and approved a part-time position for an Occupation Tax/Permit/Accounting Clerk. Resolution 2015-08 was adopted to approve the 2016 millage rate and to roll the rate back to 0.0 percent. And during this month’s session council members approved changes to some ongoing infrastructure projects including Stevenson & Palmer cost revisions from $70,500.00 (approved in March 2014) to $144,640.00 for the Main Street Improvement Project and a change order submitted by Croy Engineering on behalf of North Georgia Pipeline extending the contract time from 180 days to 210 days for the Hiram Lift Station. The council also approved the additional services cost for Easement Engineering & Design and Property Acquisition Services for the Croy Engineering Hiram Lift Station project for an additional amount of $7,000.00, amended from $112,900 (approved in February 2014) to $119,900.
UPCOMING HIRAM RACES
Spending applied to new projects is the issue that looms largest in upcoming city races with both council and mayoral candidates.
Mayoral candidate Teresa Philyaw and both newcomers competing for her Post 3 council seat have shared concerns about over-extending the use of the city’s reserves.
Post 3 candidates Jeff Cole and Jerry Duncan expressed concerns that spending is going over the top and that new projects are dipping too much into reserves, and, according to Ms. Philyaw, in some cases without more adequate efforts to first attempt to obtain federal or state funding instead. Philyaw, a retired real estate agent, wants city reserves to remain healthy enough to avoid requiring the city to adopt property taxes to fund city government.
Up to now the council has relied on sales taxes and Hiram’s share of the county’s special purpose local option sales tax to fund the government. As was just done during last week’s regular meeting, the council routinely rolls its property tax rate back to zero before approving it. Philyaw commented that the streetscape, together with the water line and sewer projects could cost as much as $5 million of the former $7 million reserve fund, and felt that some of this work could have waited for the city to reach an improved financial position.
The council’s process to find candidates from which to choose an interim manager is ongoing. The interim manager would serve through the end of the year, but would most likely not become the permanent manager.
Robbie Rokovitz was named as city manager in August of 2012. His three-year stint ended last month. His permanent replacement would most likely not start until after the election, or early next year.
EARLY VOTING BEGINS
Hiram’s election includes contested races for mayor and two city council seats and a special election to fill Ms. Philyaw’s vacant council seat. All council and mayor positions are at-large, meaning all Hiram voters are eligible to cast ballots in all races.
Early voting began Monday in the Hiram city general election. Early voting will run Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., from Monday to Oct. 23 in the county election office in the Watson Government Building on U.S. Hwy. 278 at South Main Street in Dallas.
It will also be offered to Hiram voters Oct. 26 to 30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Hiram Community Center and the county election office.
The city’s general and special elections are set for Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Hiram Community Center at 217 Main St.