Controversial Recommendation in Atlanta Mayor's Budget Appears Dead
One of the most controversial recommendations in Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s proposed 2015 budget appears dead for now.
Council finance committee chair Alex Wan said Wednesday Reed's proposal to retire the Eastside Tax Allocation District will be stripped from the budget.
"We were not comfortable having that assumption included," said Wan. "This was kind of sprung on us so we just sent the signal that, no, you need to take it out."
The comments come just days before City Council plans to vote on the budget. Reed’s proposal assumes $5 million in new revenue from retiring the Eastside TAD.
A tax allocation district is a special designation that allows a blighted area to keep more of its tax money for redevelopment. The Eastside TAD includes the Sweet Auburn neighborhood. Many in that community are opposed to the retirement, saying the TAD is still necessary to help revitalize the area.
Speaking on behalf of the Reed administration, Atlanta Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard said the Council’s message was received and alternatives were being considered.
"This is going to be a long week for us so we’re a few days away from having it all sorted out but that’s the direction that this body gave us and we’ve moved diligently in that direction," said Beard.
It remains unclear how the budget gap will be filled. City officials say they’ll have it figured out by Monday, when the Council expects to approve the budget.
Though it appears the Eastside TAD will stay intact, Wan expects the issue to be revisited in the coming months.
“We need time to talk about it but it’s not going to happen in the next two weeks,” said Wan. “The plan now is for us at some point hopefully in the near future to convene and have the specific conversation about the Eastside TAD – have Invest Atlanta come present to us and really fully vet that.”
Wan added it'll likely be part of a broader discussion about TAD retirements. He listed two other TADs that may be on the chopping block: Princeton Lakes and Atlantic Station.
"These are very complex conversations and not ones that we want to rush into. The community deserves a say in these discussions," said Wan.