ATL schools fight $18 million hit from new TAD bill
Atlanta Public Schools are fighting changes to a bill that would let Tax Allocation Districts spend school tax money.
A state Senate committee last week amended the bill to say a school board that had already approved a TAD would not have to vote on it again. School board chair LaChandra Butler Burks (right) says the change would cost APS $18 million.
House Bill 63 would allow local school boards to earmark tax money for TADs to pay for non-school improvements. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled last year that practice was unconstitutional, which led to Georgia voters amending the Constitution in November and the pending bill.
Butler Burks asked Sen. Horacena Tate to fight to remove the retroactive language, and to vote against the bill if the language could not be deleted.
In an interview, Butler Burks said the school system has kept $18 million collected for the BeltLine and another TAD because bonds for those projects have not been issued. (The tax revenue would help pay off the bonds over the years.) The system is counting on using that $18 million for schools, but would have to fork it over now to the TADs if the retroactive language remains intact.
Needless to say, no one wants an $18 million hole in their budget just about now.
Some opponents fear the retroactive language would prevent them from lobbying Atlanta school board members to withdraw their approval for the TAD, which plans on using $850 million for Atlanta’s BeltLine project over the coming years.
To the north, Gainesville school officials indicated last week that they want to withdraw from that city’s TAD for the time being. It has been unclear whether the amended TAD bill would give them that option.