Work on the former Kmart property on Hicks Drive will be cleared to start any time after tonight, when the Rome City Commission takes the last step to approve tax allocation district financing.

Commissioners also are set to finalize a leak insurance program for its water customers.

The board caucuses at 5 p.m. and starts its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 601 Broad St. Both sessions are public.

Ledbetter Properties is planning to bulldoze the Kmart site and redevelop it as East Bend, a retail center similar to the company’s Riverbend center on the other side of Turner McCall Boulevard.

Wright Ledbetter has said TAD financing is needed to make the project economically feasible due to the amount of work required to prepare the tract for construction. With the Floyd County Commission agreed to contribute its share of tax money, the City Commission is slated to execute the TAD agreement with Ledbetter tonight.

Under a TAD, increased property tax revenue from improvements is funneled back into the development for a set number of years. In the case of East Bend, it will be capped at $1,968,465 – spread out over 15 years.

Ledbetter has said he expects new tax revenues to quickly top the $131,231 scheduled to be returned each year so the TAD could end earlier. At that point, the city, city schools and county would begin reaping the full value of the new retail center.

Plans include space for about 25 businesses, with several anchor tenants and a number of new restaurants. The company is slated to close on the property July 1 and is expected to start announcing tenants after that.

The water leak insurance program for Rome City customers could go into effect as early as July 1.

Customers will start seeing an additional $1.65 a month on their bills. In exchange, they’ll be covered for two water leaks a year. Charges of up to $1,000 each time would be removed from their bills once they show proof they’ve had the leak repaired.

Anyone who doesn’t want the insurance may opt out, but they’ll be liable for the full charge if their lines spring a leak. Pipes on the other side of the meter are the customer’s responsibility.

Water and Sewer Division Director Mike Hackett has said the billing department deals with “several hundred” leak cases every year. The value of the leaked water averages between $20 and $500 per case.

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