Atlanta takes back millions

Atlanta school board members voted Monday night to keep most of the $18 million raised through tax allocation districts, but agreed to let the Atlanta Development Authority keep $6 million and repay it later.

The agreement capped off months of discussions over what would happen to the money.

The money was raised through tax allocation districts (TADS) which use a portion of school tax money to pay for development projects. State lawmakers passed a bill this year that lets school boards keep the money.

The ADA planned to use that money on various projects such as the Beltline, which would create businesses, affordable housing, and parks and recreation along a 22-mile loop in the city. City officials and developers say the money could fuel economic redevelopment in Atlanta and ultimately help the school district by increasing tax revenue down the road.

But school officials say they need the money because of state budget cuts and reductions in property tax revenue because of the recession. They said the district lost $9 million in state cuts and expects about $6.4 million less from property taxes.

The agreement reached gives the ADA a 10-year, 3 percent repayment plan for $6 million of the Beltline TAD funds.

What do you think of the school board’s decision? Are TADS a progressive way to revitalize neighborhoods or should this money be used just for education?

15 comments Add your comment

Mike Harmon

June 9th, 2009
11:01 am

I finally decided to write a comment on your blog. I just wanted to say good job. I really enjoy reading your posts.

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Turd Ferguson

June 9th, 2009
11:58 am

This ATL beltline will be just another in a long line of STUPID failures conceived by Atl govt.

catlady

June 9th, 2009
12:15 pm

School tax money should go to SCHOOLS, not speculation, not gambling, not subsidizing development/developers. Every pot on its own bottom. If a development is worthy and will generate taxes, it should be able to attract funding on its own. Surely the meltdown has taught someone something!

jim d

June 9th, 2009
12:31 pm

What difference does it really make as to who the thief is? In this particular incident however it would appear we simply have two thieves arguing over who gets to keep the plunder.

Rival

June 9th, 2009
3:34 pm

Please try to learn about Tax Allocation Districts if you’re going to comment on them. And the Beltline is not a “failure” – it already exists. It will take years to finish, but the fact that the Beltline plan is being implemented means it hasn’t failed.

The school district is funded by property tax dollars. Those tax dollars would not arrive unless private development occurred to increase the value of the land. That private development would not come without incentives from the TAD. Would you rather they abate (do way with) private developers’ property taxes for 20+ years or raise the millage rate? Because that’s the only way to incentivize this kind of development and pay for local government.

I understand the school district had new constraints with the lowered tax collections, but I’m glad they reached a mutual agreement with the ADA. But TADs are still a smart way to attract investment and will continue to be utilized.

jellyton D

June 9th, 2009
3:51 pm

The Beltline is going to serve one purpose and one purpose only. The thugs from one side of the loop will ride the cute little trolleys around to the other side, where they can perform artful smash n grabs throughout Morningside and VA-Highlands, oh yeah, this should just about finish off any white fools who are left in the city.

Corey

June 9th, 2009
3:58 pm

Jellyton D, do you think the thugs will wait until twenty years from now to travel from one side of town to the other. Last time I checked they are getting around just fine already in private vehicles(stolen) albeit. What have whites who reside in the city done to you. Why do you hate them?

reservoirDAWG

June 9th, 2009
4:27 pm

The schools should keep the money. Leave development to private enterprise.

Kitty

June 9th, 2009
4:36 pm

The schools would benefit Greater in the long-run by having the Beltline in place, but the problem is the short-run thinking and planning that have historically taken place. Yes, the Beltline would be the Best logical long-run solution, but we as Georgians have always been sprinters, and hardly ever qualified over the long run.

Rob

June 9th, 2009
5:49 pm

The Atlanta Schools need every penny they can get, even with the BIG money I contribute through the lottery education funds they can’t seem to teach right and get he kids to learn all that they can. Also look at the elected officials in Atlanta who are not too bright themselves

froggy

June 9th, 2009
6:00 pm

It’s easy to understand the School Board’s decision — after being battered with cut after cut from the state, and with the prospect of school property tax revenues declining further for sometime to come, there can be little appetite to see any “disretionary” revenue due them go to other initiatives, no matter how worthy. They’ve flip-flopped, but for good reason. Their first obligation is to sufficiently fund school operations, and that has become a lot harder over the last two years.

The Beltline team is putting up a brave front, but the truth is that the loss of school tax revenue is a mortal blow to the entire project as originally envisioned. The numbers simply don’t work without the APS money, so what we will end up with is a significantly truncated project, at least for the foreeable future, probably limited to the Quarry, the parks already acquired and bike paths in selected areas. True, the NE corridor is in hand, (at fabulous cost) but transit makes no sense unless the other right-of-way west and south can be acquired, and we are no closer to getting the right-of-way in the other four quadrants — after the spat with DOT, does anyone now really think they are goig give away to the City their critically important right-of-way west of West End? Not in this lifetime. Unless perhaps a Democratic governor is elected.

I’d encourage the AJC to really drill down beyond the well meaning pep talks into the hard cold facts of the grim revenue picture. That’s not said with any glee, but we need a honest reality check about the viability of this project’s original vision, and a candid appraisal of what we are really going to end up with. Because it ain’t going to be the Beltline as we originally envisioned it. Sad but true.

Racism Rears Its Ugly Head

June 9th, 2009
6:02 pm

jellyton D -

The Caucasians who live in the city as well as the African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Hispanics are all subject to the ills of urban crime. Your ignorance is a part of what keeps ATL stuck and unable to make substantial progress on any initiative…

Sonya Moste, PR Director for ADA

June 10th, 2009
9:55 am

Hi Everyone. To be clear, Atlanta Public Schools will participate in the BeltLine and Perry-Bolton TADs going forward. Here’s our press release from yesterday.

Last night, the Atlanta Board of Education approved a resolution affirming its participation in two City of Atlanta tax allocation districts (TAD); the BeltLine TAD and the Perry-Bolton TAD. We are pleased a resolution has been reached on this matter, which will benefit all the citizens of Atlanta and Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Educational achievement and economically vibrant neighborhoods go hand-in-hand. We look forward to continuing to partner with APS in ways that improve the quality of life in Atlanta’s communities.

The resolution was the result of nearly two months of negotiations among The Atlanta Development Authority, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and APS.  While the issue of school district participation in TADs was considered by the courts and voter referendum, property taxes assessed by APS were collected amounting to $6 million in the Perry-Bolton TAD and $12 million in the BeltLine TAD.  In response to the February 2008 Georgia Supreme Court decision that the existing constitution did not permit school districts to participate in TADs, the voter referendum in November 2008 amended the state constitution to allow school districts to participate in TADs. On April 22, Governor Purdue signed House Bill 63, affirming the will of the voters to reenact the Redevelopment Powers Law and grant school districts the ability to participate in TADs. As a result, APS has once again chosen to participate in the BeltLine and Perry-Bolton TADs.

Under the resolution approved yesterday by the Board of Education, all of the retroactive school district tax increment collected in the BeltLine and Perry-Bolton TADs will be released to APS, and the BeltLine may have access to $6 million. This agreement will help APS meet its needs in the short term and preserve momentum for the BeltLine project and the Perry-Bolton area in NW Atlanta.

ADA now turns its focus on the city’s final four TADs. Having suffered decades of disinvestment, ADA hopes that investment by the City, Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools can lay the foundation to turn around the areas in and around Greenbriar Mall, Turner Field, Lakewood Fairgrounds, Fort McPherson, Bowen Homes, Bankhead Courts and Atlanta Industrial Park. The final four TADs, sometimes referred to as the Commercial Corridor TADs will operate as pay-as-you-go TADs, which opens the door to small and mid-size scaled projects. Bond issuances may be used in addition to Pay-Go when the scale of a project would support such financing. “These areas of the city need every incentive available in the toolkit,” says Cheryl Strickland, Managing Director of TAD Programs. “Without the help of APS, we can’t guarantee anything will happen, which would be a shame. It’s about equitable investment and equitable development.”

Over the next 25 years, the final four TADs have the potential to create 16,000 new jobs, add 5.7 million square feet of new commercial space, yield more than $255 million in new sales tax revenue, grow property tax revenues in the districts by 70 percent and attract a staggering $5 billion in new private investment.

TADs are a national redevelopment best practice. TADs are playing a major role in Atlanta’s revitalization, according to a study released in 2007 that provides a first look at finances and growth rates for Georgia’s tax districts. “They promote redevelopment in areas that were underutilized, and they’re doing it in a way that lets new development – not the average tax payer – pay for the public projects needed to make the development happen,” says Jim Durrett, executive director of the Livable Communities Coalition.

Samatva

July 4th, 2009
2:30 pm

The fear mongers are so funny sometimes: please cite evidence that public transportation increases crime…

Somehow, I just can’t see a thief getting on MARTA after stealing my TV – even though it’s not all that big at 26″ – and I can’t see the Beltline trolley being any easier.

I am putting in an offer to buy a house where the biggest selling point is the neighborhood – nice folks are the biggest draw, but being right on the Beltline corridor is fairly high on the list of positive considerations….