South Cobb mayors are looking forward to 2021
By Aleks Gilbert email@example.com
With a coronavirus vaccine on the horizon, a renewed penny sales tax and big plans for their downtowns, Mayors Al Thurman and Ollie Clemons, of Powder Springs and Austell, respectively, struck a hopeful note at a “State of South Cobb” address Friday.
Speaking before the South Cobb Area Council, an arm of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, the mayors’ year-in-review was dominated by the pandemic and their response to it, such as the closure of their city halls and the use of CARES Act money provided by the county.
“As of Jan. 1, you know, the future looked bright,” Thurman said. “And all of a sudden in March our situation changed.
Despite the pandemic, both mayors expressed optimism about their cities’ prospects.
Clemons said there is “significant family and town house interest” among developers, adding that there are more than 200 “rooftops in the pipeline.”
In Powder Springs, officials hope the opening of the new Thurman Springs Park downtown will catalyze development, Thurman said.
The city is also in the process of “validating” $10 million in bonds, he continued, a third of which could go to the city’s downtown development authority for the purchase of potential residential and commercial development. The remainder would be used for a new “city hall complex” downtown, Thurman said.
Both mayors were also excited county voters approved a new special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST. The six-year tax will take effect at the beginning of 2022 after the current SPLOST expires.
Austell is expected to collect almost $10 million from the SPLOST over six years. That money will fund, among other things, a new recreation center and a multi-use trail connecting the city to the Silver Comet Trail.
A $1.2 million skate park is among the Powder Springs projects to be funded by the upcoming SPLOST, Thurman said. Powder Springs is expected to collect more than $14 million over six years from the tax. Both cities would also use much of the money to fund infrastructure and public safety improvements.
“To say that 2020 was ‘unprecedented’ would be an understatement,” Clemons said. “2021 — just saying it in an inspiration.