Clayton County approves tax revenue-sharing pilot program with Forest Park

The Clayton County Commission has launched a tax revenue sharing agreement with Forest Park. LEON STAFFORD/AJC
The Clayton County Commission has launched a tax revenue sharing agreement with Forest Park. LEON STAFFORD/AJC

Clayton County and the economic development arm of one of its biggest cities have reached a tax sharing agreement.

The county says the Forest Park Development Authority is launching a pilot program which will contribute property taxes to Clayton and the local school district on businesses it lures through municipal bonds.

That could eventually bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the county because of the large-scale industrial projects of Gillem Logistics Center, a redevelopment of Fort Gillem into a major distribution and warehousing destination near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

“This is a payment of lieu of taxes,” Clayton County Chief Operating Officer Detrick Stanford said. “The city didn’t have a statutory obligation to this agreement. It was about relationship building.”

Revenue in Clayton, like many metro Atlanta counties, has taken a hit because of slow consumer spending due to the coronavirus. The county also has seen the highest unemployment figures in the area because of a disproportionate number of frontline workers live in Clayton.

The first business that will fall under the new agreement is Ocado Solutions, a robotics and software business that supplies the grocery business. Forest Park has purchased equipment and machinery from Ocado, which the development authority will lease back to the company for use.

Had the company operated its own equipment, it would have been taxable, Stanford said. But because the city is the owner, it is not, thus forcing the two parties to seek a taxing agreement.

Clayton Commissioner Demont Davis said he is supportive of the measure, but has concerns over loopholes in the program that could still leave the county without the funding.

The agreements language also concerned Commissioner Gail Hambrick, but she said it was a good start for cooperation between the Forest Park and the county.

“That’s an improvement,” she said. “That’s good.”

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