Atlanta council gives final approval to Atlanta Beltline/APS deal

The Atlanta City Council gave final approval Monday to a deal with Atlanta Public Schools over funding for the Beltline.

The 13-2 vote is the final step before Atlanta can formally enter into a new contract with the school district. It comes just days after Mayor Kasim Reed, city and school leaders announced the deal after years of negotiations. The conflict began in 2013, when the Beltline was unable to make the payments it agreed to in exchange for using school taxes to expand the urban trail.

Under the new agreement, the school district will get significantly less money than originally planned. Instead of payments totaling about $162 million through 2030, the new deal calls for Atlanta to pay $73.5 million through 2031, school officials said. Also, Atlanta would pay all past debts, about $14.8 million, and make an additional $10 million payment next year. APS will also receive the Bankhead Courts property, a vacant piece of land owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority.

Council members Felicia Moore and Mary Norwood voted against the legislation. Both praised an end to Beltline negotiations, but said the council should have had more input and raised concerns that include giving the Bankhead property to APS, potentially to be used as a bus yard.

Others urged its passage, noting any changes would kill the agreement and send parties back to the drawing board.