The Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission unanimously approved plans to designate the boundaries for six redevelopment areas and tax allocation districts in the county during a voting session Tuesday evening.
A tax allocation district, or TAD, is an area where redevelopment costs are financed by using positive incremental increases in property taxes generated by resulting new development in the area. When a TAD is created, the State Department of Revenue sets the base value for the district, and any growth in property tax revenues are collected in a special fund and used for redevelopment costs in the district.
The redevelopment areas in the plans include east downtown, the Lexington Highway and Gaines School Road area, the Georgia Square Mall area, the West Broad Street and Hawthorne Avenue area, the Newton Bridge area and the North Avenue area.
The plans will be sent to the Clarke County School District Board of Education, which can choose to participate in the plan or not. The CCSD’s property taxes are also included in the TAD, and its participation would shorten the amount of time the TADs have to be in place, said ACC Manager Blaine Williams.
The plans identify possible public infrastructure additions that are needed in the redevelopment areas, including stormwater facilities, transit hubs and a public park. The plans also identify possible opportunities for new housing locations and economic development partnerships in the areas.
District 9 Commissioner Ovita Thornton suggested adding a community benefit agreement to the plan, as she said there is concern about TADs being connected to gentrification. Thornton said there have been many concerns about this within the community.The agreement would allow the county to create specific plans with redevelopers to ensure that redevelopment plans benefit the community in the TAD. The plan was passed with Thornton’s amendment.
The Mayor and Commission also passed 8-1 a $2.5 million Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project to build a new sidewalk and a 10-foot multi-use path on Cherokee Road in front of Satterfield Park. The sidewalk will span from a nearby Lowe’s to the park, and the path will span from a nearby U-Haul to Beaverdam Road.
District 5 Commissioner Tim Denson was the sole vote against the project, citing its high cost. He recommended building the sidewalk, but not the multi-use path. The sidewalk would have cost $1,034,000 on its own.
Denson said the leftover funding could be used for other TSPLOST projects.
“This would end up being, by far, per square foot of distance we’re covering, by far the most expensive item of all of these TSPLOST subprojects, and then possibly jeopardizing the funding for us to actually finish these out.” Denson said.
Mayor Kelly Girtz said other projects within TAD zones could be funded using TAD dollars, and wouldn’t need TSPLOST funding.