APS, City council to meet today on Beltline debt

Though talks between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Public Schools leaders over millions owed by the Beltline have stalled, the school board and Atlanta City Council are set to meet this morning to discuss the debt.

For more than a year, Reed's office has been in negotiations with Atlanta Public Schools over a multi-million dollar contract to partially fund the green space project that all agree is now — in a post recession world — unsustainable.

They disagree on what to do about it. City leaders say the Beltline can’t afford to make $162 million in payments agreed upon before the recession hit, and want to overhaul the deal.

APS — facing its own financial constraints — says the city’s failure to live up to its end of the Beltline bargain harms the school district.

Former APS superintendent Erroll Davis—who is now serving the district's chief Beltline negotiator—has said "all options" are on the table to settle the $162 million problem, including a lawsuit.

The goal of today’s meeting to establish a timeline for developing a plan to resolve that impasse. But it’s unclear how much progress the city council and the school district can make.

The Atlanta City Council hasn’t had a role in the negotiations, which until now have been held between Reed’s office, APS executives and Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit overseeing the project’s build-out.

Recently, however, President Ceasar Mitchell called for a truce in the dispute and has lobbied for the council to get involved in its own set of talks with the school district.

Within days of that plea, negotiations broke down further with Mayor Kasim Reed publicly criticizing both Davis and APS Board Chairman Courtney English. Reed's office and APS leaders are meeting later this month to resume negotiations.

Today’s meeting starts at 10 a.m. Follow reporters Katie Leslie and Molly Bloom on Twitter for live updates.