Monday, October 10, 2011

Dunwoody ballot question on Redevelopment Powers Law


I saw that there were a few questions in the comments on my blog regarding the ballot item on Tax Allocation Districts, therefore I found the presentation given to the city and posted it above.  I could probably find the video too if needed?  If this is approved it does nothing but put another tool in the City Council's tool box in case there is a way to improve blighted or distressed areas within the city.  If the Council wanted to use this tool there would be public notice, hearings and would need a majority vote of those sitting on council.  There are no immediate plans that I am aware of to use this tool, but it is a means that someday may want to be used therefore it is now on the ballot.
 
“Shall the Act be approved which authorizes the City of Dunwoody to exercise redevelopment powers under the ‘Redevelopment Powers Law’ as it may be amended from time to time?”

The Redevelopment Powers Law enables local governments to embark on projects that will foster public/private partnerships and spur economic growth. If approved, Dunwoody would be granted the authority to sell bonds to finance infrastructure and other redevelopment costs within a specifically defined area. Unlike general obligation bonds, these bonds would be secured by a tax allocation increment, which is the increase in property tax revenues resulting from the redevelopment activities taking place within the Tax Allocation District (TAD).

Tax increment financing allows cities to charge the costs of constructing public facilities and infrastructure directly to the businesses that use them rather than the public at large. In return, the businesses benefit from the construction of facilities that might not otherwise be available to them. If approved, the City could designate a specific geographic area that has the potential for redevelopment, but is presently economically or socially distressed. As public improvements and private development take place in the area, the taxable value of property in the area increases. The City collects the total revenues, putting the increase in revenues as a result of new development into a special fund to pay off the bonds that financed the public improvements, while the remainder goes back into the city’s general fund.

The TAD is dissolved when the bonds have been retired and any other public financing has been repaid.

4 comments:

Greg said...

John:

Thanks for providing some additional information on this referendum item. There is still a lot of confusion in my mind as to the need and usefulness of this particular item within Dunwoody. Where are the blighted and/or undesirable areas within the City that would benefit from these TAD bonds?

My personal interpretation is that this would be offered to developers for the PVC park and Georgetown improvement districts as an alternative to waiting for the market to dictate new investment.

I discussed this at the Parks bond meeting yesterday at City Hall and was told, quite emphatically, that the TAD does not allow for the city to issue bonds, yet that language pervades the entire presentation.

I wish that someone within the City government would clarify what can and cannot be included under the language of this referendum, and whether bond/lease and bond/sell type transactions are included.

Changing topics, but going back to my evening with the parks bonds presentation, I have to say that I am more and more convinced that this particular approach is both undefined and "wrong-headed." The more I learn and hear of the bonds, the more and more I'm convinced that it boils down to the Mayor, City Manager, and City Council saying, "Give us $66 M dollars and 'trust us" to do the right thing with it."

It was made very clear in the presentation that the Parks Master Plan has no regulatory power over how the money is spent, and the City is not required to follow even one iota of the plan, should they be so inclined.

One participant asked a very salient question: Why ask for $66M as a "lump sum" instead of breaking down bond issues for specific projects? For example, ask the voters to approve a $3M bond for the Donaldson-Chestnut House, a $5M bond for N/S greenways, etc.

This, to me, seems like a more reasonable and controllable approach to funding these types of activities.

At this point, I am firmly convinced that Dunwoody needs more and improved parks, but the bond referendums and the third redevelopment referendum are "bad policy" and should be defeated. There are more transparent and focused ways to accomplish the goals of the Masterplan, and these referendums are more of a liability than an asset to future planning in Dunwoody, at least from the taxpayer's perspective.

theduckgoesquack said...

Looks like McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP are looking for a city to sucker into giving a hand out to one of their large developer clients. Guess the word is out on the street that Dunwoody can't tell a pile of cash from a hole in the ground. It wouldn't bother me except that large developers almost always favor the mixed use high density. I suppose the profit margin is much higher for mixed use, because I'm sure the developers or lawyers could care less about actual improvemts to quality of life. They love to paint the pretty picture in these types of presentations, but TADS don't always work out like the brochure describes. In fact, cities can get duped out of millions in general funds when they don't work as planned. See this AJC article for a few local examples of what can go wrong and the costs. Bad Times For TADs My Vote NO!

Rob said...

VOTE YES on the Parks Bonds and YES on Redevelopment Powers.

These are all very clear cut ways for Dunwoody to move forward. The Parks Bonds will fund the acquisition of new park land, and the improvement bonds will allow us to fix and upgrade our existing parks. All of this is long overdue in Dunwoody. We've talked about it for over a decade, and now with land prices so low it's the opportune time to move forward.

The idea Greg mentions to do this in small increments per project fails to recognize the need to provide funds to the City Council so they can move forward as they develop more detailed plans. I trust our local government to do what's best for us in Dunwoody, and passing these parks bonds is the best way to move forward.

Similarly, the ability to do TAD's is something most other cities have done in the Metro area. City of Dunwoody needs this ability as well. All this referendum does is give the City of Dunwoody the same powers as other local governments.

For Greg to say this is "bad policy" is just plain foolish. We didn't spend all our efforts setting up a solid and effective local government to now come along and deny it the power it needs to offer TAD's should that be a desirable alternative. We must give our City of Dunwoody the same authority to act as other cities possess.

I for one am tired of those who want every last detail spelled out, when in fact, we've got to have confidence and trust in our local officials. I do. They are elected by us; they are responsible to us; and I'm sure they are going to do the sensible thing with both the Parks and TAD's. Their track record proves this.

Let's get serious about doing the right thing as voters and having the ability to improve our city.

All of these referenda are really about our future. If we want a better City, with Parks and not projects, then vote YES for these items on November 8th.

Colleen O'Casey said...

Rob, dauntless and discerning words! Well done!