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.
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.
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 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.