DK Development Authority: Walker resigns, ‘stimulus’ draft released
Gene Walker has resigned as chairman of the DeKalb County Development Authority, two months after an uproar over his dual role as a member of the authority and the DeKalb Board of Education.
Walker said he did not want his continued presence to become a distraction to the agency’s economic development work. “I feel the intense media scrutiny on me, personally, is becoming a hindrance to this board’s ability to continue to achieve its objectives,” his resignation letter said.
Walker had become a focus for community opposition to a proposed $51 million tax break for the Sembler Co.’s mixed-use Town Brookhaven project off Peachtree Road. Sembler officials and family members donated $21,500 to Walker’s campaign last year for the school board seat. Atlanta Unfiltered reported in June that most of the contributions were left off Walker’s campaign finance reports until the election was over.
The authority in June backed off a vote on the Sembler tax break until the county could develop clear guidelines for determining whether tax incentives are a good deal for DeKalb.
Just last week, the county’s economic development staff staff released a draft of an economic stimulus policy (with “for discussion purposes only” noted prominently) with these key components:
— Proposed recipients of property tax breaks must make an investment of at least $100 million.
— Eligible projects must result in a net economic benefit for DeKalb, including taxes, fees and job creation, with an economic multiplier to calculate the ripple effect of the wages paid.
— Authority members must review the benefit analysis before voting.
— Any tax break would be “subject to further analysis” by tax assessors and the DeKalb County Commission. The commission’s approval would be required for any PILOT bond issue (payment in lieu of taxes) associated with the incentives.
No mention is made of the DeKalb Board of Education’s role in the process. The school system receives the bulk of the typical property tax bill.