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Residential fee removed for mixed-use developments

A controversial fee on certain residential properties in the city of Cumming is going away.

Members of the Cumming City Council voted 4-0, with Councilman Lewis Ledbetter absent, to remove a residential service fee paid by city residents living in mixed-use zoning district MU.

“I feel strongly that we should not be charging our residents $85 a month,” said Mayor Troy Brumbalow, later adding that “it goes into an account earmarked for service.”

The fee was heavily discussed last year as those living at Marketplace Commons, the only residents in the city with the zoning, objected to the fees, with some residents calling it a tax. In October, the city council voted to get rid of the fee for the neighborhood. 

“We canceled collecting those fees anymore for one neighborhood, but we have a neighborhood that is about to start getting [certificates of occupancy, required documents] on properties,” Brumbalow said. 

Adding to the frustration is the fact that the commercial portion of the development, planned to go at the southwest intersection of Buford Dam and Sanders roads, has not been built.

While Cumming does not collect property taxes, though homes in the county do pay county property taxes, Brumbalow — who took office in January, after the fees were removed — said the fee was akin to a tax.

“They’re paying the $85 [while] none of us are paying that fee,” Brumbalow said. “I mean, that’s almost a tax on new residents.”

Previously, city officials said the fee was meant to make up revenue the city would have earned from commercial properties. Funds generated from the fee must be used in the neighborhood and would likely go toward street work, such as street signage, resurfacing and restriping. 

At that time, city officials said $109,171 had been paid by the residents as of Aug. 31 and none of the money has been used yet for improvements.