Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. proposes budget increase, trail extensions, planning for Streetcar extension

By David Pendered

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. has proposed a budget for the upcoming year that’s 27 percent larger than the current budget. Money is provided to design an extension of the Atlanta Streetcar, figure out how to connect the BeltLine to MARTA, build a park, and extend the Eastside and Westside trails.

Ongoing construction of the Atlanta Streetcar is envisioned in the proposed budget of the Atlanta BeltLine, which earmarks $3 million to fund designs that would connect the Streetcar with the BeltLine's Eastside Trail. Credit: David Pendered

Ongoing construction of the Atlanta Streetcar is envisioned in the proposed budget of the Atlanta BeltLine, which earmarks $3 million to fund designs that would connect the Streetcar with the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail. Credit: David Pendered

BeltLine spending is slated to rise to $62.1 million from $49 million, an increase of $13.1 million. The current budget expires June 30 and the budget for Fiscal Year 2016 begins July 1.

The proposed budget is slated to be adopted Thursday by Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm that is chaired by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The proposed budget was approved May 21 by Invest Atlanta’s TAD Project and Policy Review Committee.

Here are highlights of where the money would go:

  • Parks and Trails – $24 million, including $666,670 to upgrade Arthur Langford Jr. Park, in southwest Atlanta near the planned Southside Trail; $383,332 to design Enota Park, in southwest Atlanta; $5.3 million to build the Eastside Trail between Irwin Street and Memorial Drive; and $15.8 million to build a 2.9-mile stretch of the Westside Trail, from Lena Street to University Avenue.
  • Transit and Transportation – $8.8 million, including $3 million to design a 1.5-mile extension of the Atlanta Streetcar eastward along the Auburn Avenue corridor toward Krog Street, where the Streetcar would dead-end at the BeltLine.
  • Real estate asset management – $20.8 million, for maintenance, easements and acquisition.
  • The proposed budget of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. provides money to design and eastward extension of the Atlanta Streetcar so it connects with the BeltLine's Eastside Trail. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine via investatlanta.com

    The proposed budget of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. provides money to design and eastward extension of the Atlanta Streetcar so it connects with the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine via investatlanta.com

    Administration and operating expenses – $6.3 million, up $185,403 (3 percent) from the current year.

  • Federal lobbyist – $141,600, up $3,600 from the current year. The BeltLine uses Holland & Knight, a law firm, to lobby primarily on transportation funding proposals pending before Congress.
  • Affordable Housing – $526,500, including $400,000 in matching funds for a grant program the BeltLine operates with Federal Home Loan Bank.
  • Community engagement – $86,000, including $50,000 for a planning consultant.

The proposed budget pays nothing to the Atlanta school system. However, the budget does have a row titled “APS Pilot Payment,” with zero dollars allotted. A footnote describes the row as a, “placeholder pending final resolution of the intergovernmental agreement between the city of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, and the Atlanta Public Schools.”

The proposed budget of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. provides money for engineering studies to solve lingering connectivity issues that surround the BeltLine. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. via investatlanta.com

The proposed budget of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. provides money for engineering studies to solve lingering connectivity issues that surround the BeltLine. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. via investatlanta.com

The word Pilot is an acronym for, “payment in lieu of taxes,” which is the type of financial arrangement the city and district structured in order for the district to provide financial support for the BeltLine’s development costs.

The city and school district have been at odds for years over the amount due to the district in the wake of lower revenues generated in the BeltLine Tax Allocation District during and since the great recession.

The lion’s share of the boost in the BeltLine’s anticipated revenues is expected to come via a $13.4 million increase in a line item titled, “Strategic Land Acquisition Fund Partners.” The planned $19.7 million represents a 215 percent increase from the current budget of $6.3 million. The budget does not appear to provide additional information.

Additional income is slated to come from a surge of construction in the BeltLine Tax Allocation District. The TAD is forecast to generate $21.7 million, up $2.3 million (12 percent) from the current $19.4 million.

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

8 replies
  1. Earl Williamson says:

    And not a dime to meet contractually agreed upon and legally required debts owed to th the City’s public education. Poorly played, Beltline, Poorly played.Report

    Reply
  2. Patrick Wolfe says:

    I’m still confused as to why ABI is taking the lead on streetcar expansion instead of Atlanta Streetcar. Is this just a power grab by Invest Atlanta?Report

    Reply

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