City Government city APS agreement signing

Published on January 31st, 2016 |

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City, APS finally settle 3-year feud over BeltLine TAD payments

(Story was updated Monday evening with action by Atlanta City Council.)

After almost three years of tension and wrangling over payments between the city and Atlanta Public Schools over a 2009 contact involving the BeltLine TAD, an agreement was signed Friday which now obligates Atlanta to pay nearly $74 to APS instead of the previous $162 million.

The Atlanta City Council gave its approval Monday to the new intergovernmental agreement with a vote of 13-2, settling the monetary dispute between the city, the Atlanta BeltLine and Atlanta Public Schools. The measure was sponsored by Councilmembers Kwanza Hall, Andre Dickens and Alex Wan.

From left to right at the announcement of the agreement are: BeltLine Inc. President , Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Mayor Kasim Reed, and Atlanta School Board Chairman

From left to right at the announcement of the agreement are: BeltLine Inc. President Paul Morris, Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, Mayor Kasim Reed, and Atlanta Board of Education Chairman Courtney English.

While the city wanted to move the payments to a percentage of the tax revenues earned through economic development along the BeltLne, APS wanted guaranteed payments.

The city also must become current with what it owed APS through 2015 – a total of $14.7 million. That includes a $9.1 million payment the city made over the holidays to make sure the city would not go into legal default for nonpayment to APS. The additional payment of $5.7 million will be due by the end of February.

The city also committed to a one-time $10 million payment in 2017. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the city would pay that out of the proceeds from the sale of the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, according to news reports.

The city also promised to work with APS to transfer a piece of property owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority, the Bankhead Courts property (a now-vacant piece of land), to the school system for educational purposes.

Reed joined Atlanta Board of Education Chair Courtney English, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. President and CEO Paul Morris, and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and members of the Atlanta City Council to announce an agreement.

“Today, we have reached an agreement that will not only benefit our students but ensure the continued development of one of our city’s most transformative projects – the Atlanta BeltLine,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a press release.

The original agreement to create and fund the Atlanta BeltLine was designed prior to the Great Recession, the city said. In that agreement, in exchange for APS contributing a portion of its tax revenues to the project, the city of Atlanta, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and Invest Atlanta pay the school system “Payments in Lieu of Taxes,” known as PILOTs.

The payments were “unsustainable,” the city said in its press release, “and would halt the progress” of the BeltLine. The new agreement restructures the payments and ensures the future development of the Atlanta BeltLine in a way that reflects current economic realities as well as APS’ need for guaranteed revenue, the city said in its release.

“I want to thank Mayor Reed for his efforts in reaching a compromise, which I believe is in the best interest of Atlanta Public Schools, our city, and the BeltLine,” English said. “This new agreement provides financial certainty for APS that will be used to further our turnaround efforts and protects the future success of the BeltLine.”

“Today’s announcement is an example of the possibilities when stakeholders come together to find real solutions to tough problems. While the process was tenuous at times, I am pleased that we are making progress on this very important issue” said City Council President Ceasar Mitchell.

“I want to thank Mayor Reed, APS’ and the BeltLine, Inc.’s leadership for operating in a spirit of collaboration. I hope this same level of cooperation leads to action at Monday’s Council meeting, which enables the City to realize the original vision of the Beltline: a source to unify, transform and improve the quality of life for all Atlantans, Mitchell added.

“Finalizing a resolution will offer proof to the fact that when we say we put children –and the future of Atlanta – first, we mean it,” stated the City Council president.

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