WABE 90.1 took a Closer Look with Dr. Melvin Johnson (interview transcribed), chair of the DeKalb Board of Education, to discuss the Doraville TAD. The FactChecker staff is very concerned about Dr. Johnson’s understanding of the Doraville TAD and how TADs work among other numerous other inaccurate statements he made in that 15 minute interview.
Related Posts And Docs
TAD Talk By Commissioner Nancy Jester – (May 2016)
Transcribed Interview of Dr. Johnson on WABE – (May 2016)
TAD – Q&A – Open Discussion – (Apr 2016)
Doraville Tax Allocation District – (Dec 2015)
DeKalb Schools – Not a Fan of the TAD – (Dec 2015)
Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Doraville and DeKalb County
Doraville TAD Bleakly Report (outlines the rationale, boundaries, fiscal data and potential projects for the TAD)
|Rose Scott – “Do you feel like the board has really vetted the opportunities, talked to all the major players involved here?”
Dr. Melvin Johnson – “We met with Mr. Perry, the developer. We met with the Mayor and her staff of Doraville and many others discussing options and opportunities in this regard.”
|The Superintendent and Dr. Johnson have had many conversations with representatives from the Assembly project.
The board, however, has never met with the developer or representatives from the City of Doraville despite many requests from the city to meet including this April 6 email and this May 4 email. There is also an ongoing petition asking the DeKalb County School Board to Hear the TAD Proposal.
Furthermore, the school district has asked the developer to not reach out to school board members individually.
|Rose Scott – “Are you saying that DeKalb Schools would essentially be forfeiting money that should come into the district over that time?”
Dr. Melvin Johnson – “Yes. We would be deferring money in that regard over a million dollars per month in that regard.”
Rose Scott – “A million dollars per month?”
Dr. Melvin Johnson – “Yes. Per month that would be deferred. However, we get into how long that goes on and over a period of money we would be giving up roughly $235 million over time. It’s our estimate that we would probably break even in 2050.”
Rose Scott – “Is that when you would get the money back?”
Dr. Melvin Johnson – “That’s when we would start collecting the taxes from the development itself.”
|This is the part that strains credulity. The school board chair is completely unaware of how the TAD works.
1) $936,000 is collected annually from the GM Site. It’s annually, not monthly.
2) With a TAD, the school district CONTINUES TO KEEP COLLECTING THAT MONEY (We can’t emphasize that enough). As improvements are made and development occurs on the property, its value will increase. The tax that is paid on that increase in the value, gets paid into the TAD account.
3) The TAD is set for 25 years. The school district would continue to collect the roughly $1 million in taxes every year. The increase in taxes collected from the increased property value over that $1 million will start going to the school district in 25 years (2042), not 2050 as the chair suggested.
The school district will break even from this investment in 2050. The school district will continue to collect in perpetuity 3 times the revenue they would otherwise receive without the TAD.
4) If the school board doesn’t do the TAD, the Assembly Project will get abated from the Doraville Development Authority. It bears repeating, with NO TAD the school district GETS NO TAXES FOR 15+ YEARS.
|Jim Burress – As you see the redevelopment question and how DeKalb County Schools play into that with the TAD. It sounds to me like you’re saying it’s a moot point, it doesn’t matter because it’s going to happen anyway.
Dr. Melvin Johnson – I think it will happen any way. It may not happen with the same profile that is being discussed right now. But, it will certainly happen and it will be developed regardless whether or not the school system participates or not.
|That site will be developed with or without a TAD or an abatement. The question is, what kind of development will you get. Atlantic Station as it is could not have happened without a TAD, the Beltline could not have happened without a TAD. Without a TAD, the Assembly Project will not be the next Atlantic Station but a bunch of strip malls and apartments.|
Nancy Jester wrote this colorful piece reflecting on Dr. Johnson’s interview.
Article: TAD Talk (May 6, 2016)
By: Nancy Jester, DeKalb County Commissioner