Milton City Hall gets funding

Bonds allow grand opening in 2017

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MILTON, Ga. – At long last, Milton has set the wheels turning to get their own City Hall.

Last Monday, May 19, Milton's City Council approved the issuance of a $10 million revenue bond in order to fund City Hall in historic downtown Crabapple.

The bond, for an amount up to $10 million, means Milton taxpayers will not have to levy additional taxes or fees to build the municipal complex, set to open in April 2017, said Mayor Joe Lockwood.

"We're excited to not only be giving the residents of the City of Milton a beautiful, welcoming and functional City Hall complex - we're doing it without adding to their tax bills," said Lockwood. "With smart budgeting and judicious use of our yearly fund balance, we'll be able to bring these projects to fruition without the additional burden of more revenue from property taxes."

The City Hall complex, which will be located between Crabapple Road and the existing Braeburn development, is slated to include offices, council chambers, meeting areas for residents and a town green for expansion of special events in Crabapple.

In February, Milton paid $900,000 for a little over two acres to be used in the project.

“If we didn’t latch on to [this land] when we did, we could have been developed out of this community,” said City Manager Chris Lagerbloom.

Staff continues to negotiate on a small portion of land – about a third of an acre - expected to enhance the final project. The purchase was made possible thanks to a redistribution of sales tax revenue (LOST) that was negotiated last year. The revenue is based on Census figures and reflected a shifting of population from downtown Atlanta into the suburbs. Milton saw its revenue nearly double, rising from $4 million to $7.8 million annually.

The city has made no secret of wanting a permanent City Hall to house government offices and hold community events. Since the city's creation in 2006, City Hall has been in rented offices on Deerfield Parkway, a contract that runs out in 2019.

The city plans to downsize its footprint in the Deerfield building in the coming years once a new courthouse and public safety building are completed. That project was put on hold during the recession and local option sales tax discussions.

With the new LOST monies in hand, the city can afford to build a new City Hall and the public safety building shortly after.

By shifting rent payments to debt payments, eventually the city’s buildings would be completely paid off.

Plans for the development will by crafted in-house by City Architect Robert Buscemi to maximize savings to taxpayers. As the plans become available, the city expects to let the public view them and chart the project's progress via the city's Web site and public meetings.

The bond will also pay for the 2014-2015 expansion of Bell Memorial Park and the construction of a court, fire and police services complex on Ga. 9 near Cambridge High School, expected to open in 2019.

mh 06-04-14