Atlanta City Council members are considering a resolution that would invest a chunk of the revenue from the planned public safety training center back into the city programs.
After facing heavy criticism to intervene on the project, council members introduced a proposal that would allocate 25% of net revenue generated by the facility into workforce housing, youth development, sustainability and infrastructure initiatives.
The revenue would come from leasing the facility to help train other agencies. But the city’s financial chief said Wednesday that there are no concrete estimates of how much, if any, net revenue the project will bring in.
The resolution was considered and passed by council members on both the Community Development and Human Services and the Finance and Executive committees this week.
Councilman Antonio Lewis, who authored the plan, said that it was the council’s way to audit the project after it was given the go-ahead by previous members.
“For as long as the public safety training facility is around, for as long as it’s generating funds — which we assume is going to happen because this happened before we were elected — this is us trying to make this paper as thoughtful and as helpful to the city as possible,” he said.
Nine of the fifteen voting members of the council have signed onto the resolution which splits a quarter of the revenue equally between the specified community program categories.
“Essentially what this is doing is for every dollar a quarter will now be, instead of just the general fund that we could have applied anything, will now go have specific purpose allocations,” said Councilman Alex Wan during discussion in the finance committee meeting Wednesday.
City Chief Financial Officer Mohamed Balla said the mayor’s office is supportive of the plan but cautioned that the city’s debts related to the project must be paid off.
“Anything that has been a commitment of the city needs to be met and obligated first,” he said. “To the extent that there’s overages that the city has, we can make decisions about those independently.”
Atlanta City Council has faced a barrage of public testimony in the past few weeks from frustrated residents who have pleaded with the body to press pause on construction of the facility.
But behind closed doors at City Hall, lawyers have advised current council members that they do not have the authority to immediately terminate the ground lease agreement between the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Foundation — the nonprofit organization leading the project.
Lewis said this week that the proposed resolution is a step toward addressing widespread concerns.
“This is us saying ‘hey, we got here, we saw the book already written and we’re trying to edit some of the chapters in the book,”’ he said.