‘It’s a new day’ for APS and the City of Atlanta

By Maria Saporta

Friday morning was a Kumbaya moment for the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Public Schools.

Leaders from both entities heralded the end of a hard-fought battle over how much the City of Atlanta owed APS over tax revenues from the Atlanta BeltLine.

“It is a good day to be an Atlantan,” said Courtney English, chairman of the Atlanta Board of Education. “While I love this city, while I love this mayor, I’m glad we are through this process.”

The agreement involves the city making annual escalating payments to APS through 2030. It means the City will be paying APS $73,5 million from 2017 to 2030, plus the $14.77 million would bring that to $88.2 million. The previous agreement had called for the City to pay a total of $162 million from 2013 through 2030.

While the city had wanted to move the payments to a percentage of the tax revenues earned through economic development along the BeltLine, APS wanted guaranteed payments. English said he was willing to reduce the amount of payments for that guarantee.

BeltLine APS Atlanta

Everyone is all smiles at the announcement that an agreement has been reached between the City of Atlanta and APS over BeltLine payments. Paul Morris, Ceasar Mitchell, Kasim Reed and Courtney English celebrate in front of Park Tavern next to the BeltLine (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Other features of the agreement included the city becoming current with what it owed APS through 2015 – a total of $14.77 million. That includes a $9.1 million payment the city made over the holidays to make sure the City would not go into legal default for nonpayment to APS. The additional payment of $5.7 million will be due by the end of February.

The City also agreed to making a one-time $10 million in 2017. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the City would be paying that out of the proceeds of the sale of the Atlanta Civic Center.

Lastly, the City will work with APS to transfer a piece of property owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority for education purposes.

Reed credited many people for making sure the negotiations stayed on track, including Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and City Councilman Andre Dickens.

Everyone said having an agreement, which still needs approval from the school board and the Atlanta City Council, would mark a new day of cooperation between the City and the school system.

“I hope by resolving this issue, it will signal a renewed partnership between APS and the City of Atlanta,” English said. “We need each other to be successful.”

Paul Morris, president of Atlanta BeltLine Inc., said the agreement was in the spirit of the whole redevelopment project.

“Our mission is to bring Atlanta together,” Morris said, adding that the BeltLine is reconnecting 45 Atlanta neighborhoods. “It also will connect 22 of Atlanta’s most important institutions – its schools. This kind of connectivity will contribute to the health and well-being of our community.”

In fact, students will be able to walk and bike to their schools “safely” along the BeltLine. It also will create jobs where the students can work after they graduate, Morris said.

Mayor Reed also promised to address the issue of deeds that City still holds on APS property.

“I look forward to working with the Atlanta School Board and the Atlanta City Council,” he said about the deeds – promising to work in a “highly collaborative and speedy manner.”

Later in a conversation with English, the Mayor said: “We will not be unreasonable as it relates to the issues around the deeds.”

The Mayor also described the process of reaching an agreement.

“We will have a reset in the relationship and work on other things,” he said. “Without this resolution, the BeltLine had a cloud of uncertainty hanging over it in every respect.”

Now that cloud has been removed, and it will be possible for the Atlanta BeltLine to proceed more freely in securing new development and funding for the multi-purpose corridor.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

18 replies
  1. Cindy Hulbert says:

    Any idea what piece of property is being referenced in the quote “Lastly, the City will work with APS to transfer a piece of property owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority for education purposes”?Report

    Reply
  2. SaportaReport says:

    From Maria: To be determined. At first there was talk of Bankhead Courts but that’s not going to work. They will meet to figure that out.Report

    Reply
  3. Cityzen says:

    Until we see all the numbers, we don’t know the total value of the settlement, Steve Wise.  There was $26mm paid to APS before the constitutional amendment. There’s the $9.1 mm paid last month and $5.7mm to be paid next month and $10mm to be paid in 2017. Are they in or out of the $73mm?  And what is the AHA land worth?
    In any event, APS will be getting a higher percentage of the TAD revenue than originally intended. They drove a hard bargain.

    The real questions are (1) where will the money come from – what other city budgets will be shorted to make the early payments?  And (2) will the Beltline be viable once it makes the future payments that the city has not agreed to pick up?Report

    Reply
  4. The Real TAD Expert says:

    TAD Expert….you are really a TAD dunce. Yes the Beltline refunded $26M to APS that was collected after the TAD was formed and before the constitutional amendment was passed.  You really post a lot of incorrect info for someone with the tag TAD Expert.Report

    Reply
  5. NWAtl says:

    “For educational purposes” RIIIGHT. That is until amendments are made by AHA (in the works for next week) so APS can construct a bus shed on DL Hollowell at the Bankhead Courts location that is supposed to be used for HOUSING…affordable housing. Now we are going to burden this area and the small two lane roads of NW Atlanta with even more traffic, not to mention all the environmental impacts there along the river.Report

    Reply
  6. TAD Expert says:

    Cityzen
    I just read the Third Amendment. The $73 million is a completely new total, such that the City does not get any credit for prior payments.Report

    Reply
  7. Theresa Childs says:

    “Lastly, the City will work with APS to transfer a piece of property owned by the Atlanta Housing Authority for education purposes.”
    Any additional info on what this entails?Report

    Reply
  8. Burroughston Broch says:

    Cityzen  “So where’s the money coming from to pay APS?”
    From the City taxpayers.
    The City proclaims victory, APS proclaims victory, and the taxpayers take it in the shorts.Report

    Reply
  9. Cityzen says:

    The new agreement confirms that APS gets all the PILOT payments it received prior to Dec 2015, plus $24mm plus $73mm plus the land or its value. I don’t recall the precise amounts paid since the constitutional amendment kicked in. But we’re looking at total payments of around $125 – 130mm plus the land.  That’s a lot more than 5% of the foregone taxes that was the original deal. APS drove a hard bargain – definitely not ‘shorted $88mm’.Report

    Reply
  10. The Real TAD Expert says:

    iwasjustwondering  That is a great question and one that would be very hard to unravel and figure out.  I also believe that ABI is responsible for all APS legal payments per the terms of the agreements.  Years ago ABI made very large payments to APS legal teams. So the schools outside legal expense = $0 and ABI’s would be a lot of $.Report

    Reply
  11. The Real TAD Expert says:

    TAD Expert The Real TAD Expert  TAD Expert, please go back through time and look what happened after the TAD was formed and before the referendum.  It caused all increment payments to be considered “illegal” or “non-TAD”…that was one of the main reasons for the referendum. ABI handed back +/- $26M to APS after the referendum was passed.  That was also the same time that the new $162M PILOT payment agreement was structured.  So Buddy….learn your facts or others will teach you.Report

    Reply

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