Citizens to Decide on Redevelopment Powers in November

Peachtree Corners voters will decide in the fall whether to approve a referendum that would give the city a financing tool to help fund public projects.

The City Council unanimously approved the resolution to add a referendum to the November ballot.
The City Council unanimously approved the resolution to add a referendum to the November ballot.
The Peachtree Corners City Council voted 7-0 in favor of adding a referendum to the Nov. 5 ballot to give voters an opportunity to approve a redevelopment financing tool known as redevelopment powers.

If approved, it would give the city the ability to create tax allocation districts (TADs), which are used to assist in the financing of a blighted area or under-developed area of a city.

"I knew there would be some immediate interest," said Mayor Mike Mason in his opening statements acknowledging that some residents would be concerned that it would grant additional powers to city leaders.

"This has nothing to do with the three city services," said the city's Community Development Director Diana Wheeler as she explained its purpose.

The name, redevelopment powers conjures up images of unfettered power by city leaders acknowledged Wheeler. "But it's a financing mechanism, that's all it is," she explained. "It's a Georgia law enacted almost 30 years ago to help cities finance areas that needed to be redeveloped."

A few fast facts about redevelopment powers:

1. The Georgia Redevelopment Powers law was enacted in 1985 to help with the redevelopment of undeveloped, under-developed and economically depressed areas.

2. The law authorizes the use of tax allocation bonds to finance infrastructure such as parking garages, public plazas and town squares within a tax allocation district (TAD).

3. Redevelopment Powers are not new. Voters in over 30 cities in the state have approved the law including Alpharetta, Marietta, Kennesaw, Duluth and Roswell.

Wheeler provided the following example on how TADs work:
  • Say the property taxes on a vacant piece of property are $10,000 per year.
  • Then the property is developed and the taxes on the improved property is $100,000 per year.
  • If the property is part of a TAD, the property taxes are frozen at the vacant land rate ($10,000 per year).
  • After the land is developed, the property owner pays the improved property rate ($100,000).
  • However, the $90,000 difference between the $10,000 and $100,000 in property taxes is kept in a separate account and pledged (over a period of 20 years) toward improvements to a specific project.
"It increases property values in the surrounding areas," said Wheeler. "But it does not raise taxes and does not expand the city services. It's simply a mechanism to help fund certain projects."

However, one citizens urged that the city use caution moving forward. Ali Stinson, who spoke during the public comment period, was concerned that the referendum would come before voters in an off year when voter turnout is generally lower.

"We need maximum voter turnout," said Stinson who said that referendums should only be placed on the ballot on "major voting years."

The law requires that citizens decide by referendum vote whether to approve the redevelopment powers for the city.

"It's an excellent tool," said Wheeler. "It allows TAD funds to pay for public improvements that would otherwise not get built. We owe it to our community to try."

Lee Ann Novak Early September 10, 2013 at 01:23 PM
Just curious...since a TAD must have a very specific boundary, and is intended for "a specific geographic area that has the potential for redevelopment, but which suffers from blight or other “economically or socially distressed” conditions," where would the legislatively-created City Redevelopment Agency likely be implementing the first Peachtree Corners TAD? Surely not anywhere near the former 'Roberts Property,' because that is most definitely not an 'economically blighted' area...?
Mary September 10, 2013 at 02:59 PM
I find the above reference to "facts" appealing. I would like to hear the "facts" about what area(s) of our community inspired the Peachtree Corners council to request voter permission for "Redevelopment Powers". I hope readers will do the same.
David B. Manley September 10, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Allan P, I am sorry that my comments do not meet with your claimed standards and condescending position. My comments are as civil and courteous as the comments to which I am responding. You seem to confuse a personal attack with a pointed response to a factually unsupported comment. I find interesting that you do not comment on the various direct and indirect unfounded attacks on those not even participating in this thread when those attacks support your position ("I am tired of our Council and Mayor heading into issues without complete research..." "[W]hy should we trust them..." "[M]any are willing to say one thing at one time and do another..." "platitudes and Joe Isuzu 'trust me' rhetoric..." "afraid of being out of lockstep..." "we were also misled...""puppets", "[T]hey are all so damned sure..." "[Y]ou don't seem to understand..." "whatever little credibility this governing body may have...," "[I]s it really too much to ask that the council stick to their promises...," etc., etc., etc.). I suppose saying, without basis, that our elected representatives have little credibility is your idea of civility, courtesy, and is not a personal attack. It seems to me that you try to couch your comments with courteous words while passive-aggressively doing what you condemn, all while being condescending toward those commenting who seem well able to take care of themselves without your help. I submit that those who will be discouraged from participating in this forum are those who do not have facts to back their positions and accusations, which discouragement will benefit a reasoned discussion rather than a free-for-all against those not here to defend themselves.


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