APS on mayor’s new Gulch plan:  District has been ‘more than reasonable’

Atlanta Public Schools responded today to pointed words from Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who indicated the city revised a public funding proposal for the downtown Gulch development because of the school system.

The city announced this morning it had negotiated an amended funding proposal for the development by CIM Group. The new plan nixes a proposed 10-year extension of a special taxing district for which it needed approval from Atlanta Public Schools. 

Full details of the new plan were not known immediately, and it’s unclear how much of a say Atlanta Public Schools would have in the newly revised funding proposal. 

Atlanta superintendent Meria Carstarphen has said the city needs to renegotiate or eliminate the school system’s participation in five other tax-allocation districts, or TADS, which divert some school tax revenue for a period of time to pay for improvements within a specific area. 

On Monday, Bottoms issued a statement saying: “After several months of negotiations, recent public statements by Atlanta Public Schools have reflected their unwillingness to reasonably partner with the City of Atlanta on the Gulch. Thus, the administration has worked with CIM to remove the extension of the Westside TAD as a part of our agreement.” 

The school district countered Monday afternoon with its own statement, saying APS’ approach has been “more than reasonable.” 

Here’s the full text of the APS statement responding to Mayor Bottoms: 

“Atlanta Public Schools’(APS) statement on tax allocation districts (TADs) remains the same. Since publication of our Agenda for Children during the 2017 elections, we have consistently communicated to the city that APS must renegotiate the five existing TADs in which APS currently participates (Atlantic Station, Beltline, Eastside, Perry Bolton and Westside). 

APS has not received some of the promised benefits of these five TADs. Key agreements in some of these TADs have not been kept, making it even more important that we get these issues resolved prior to considering any new commitments. 

APS has contributed over $434 million toward those five TADs since 1999 and will contribute an estimated $1.2 billion more over the life of the current TADs. Currently, the amount of taxes generated within those TADs exceeds the statutory limit of 10 percent of the total APS tax digest. As the largest contributor to five of the city’s ten TADs, it is more than reasonable for APS to exercise due diligence over the existing TADs and any future TADs. See Atlanta Board of Education policy DFA Local Tax Revenues – Tax Allocation Districts. 

It is not the case that the district has been negotiating on any new TAD or any extension related to TADs. 

We continue in good faith to seek the renegotiation of those existing five TAD agreements. We have a duty to do what’s fiscally responsible for our 52,000 students, 6,000 employees, and 158,000 taxpayers.”

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