City DopeNews

School Board Lawyer Recommends Against Redevelopment Plan

The Clarke County School District’s lawyer says the Board of Education should not go along with Athens-Clarke County’s plans to encourage redevelopment in six parts of town.

In a letter to school board members obtained by Flagpole, Michael Pruett incorrectly stated that property taxes are forgiven in tax allocation districts. TADs are a redevelopment tool that uses additional taxes from new development to make infrastructure improvements within the district. For example, ACC could issue bonds to pay for sidewalks or sewer lines that would allow a development to go forward, then pay off the bonds with the revenue the development generates.

The ACC Commission voted last month to create six TADS—around Georgia Square Mall, on Atlanta Highway near Hawthorne Avenue, along Newton Bridge Road, covering the eastern edge of downtown and part of East Athens, on North Avenue, and on Lexington Road near Gaines School Road. Those areas were identified as “blighted,” and the possibility of a TAD could entice developers to build there.

But the taxes ACC collects are only about 40% of the overall property taxes. About 60% go to the Clarke County School District, so unless the school board also adopts the TADs, less than half of the new taxes generated by development will be available to spend on infrastructure in those districts, making them less attractive to developers.

Pruett called it “a very significant financial issue for CCSD,” and wrote that not only might the district lose out on potential tax revenue, but it might face increased expenses if the new developments house school-age children.

ACC has asked CCSD to approve the TADs before Jan. 1, when property values are set for the coming year. At press time, the school board had not scheduled a vote, and Pruett said in his letter that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet that deadline.