DeKalb Schools Board Chair Talks TAD

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

Doraville was home to a GM production plant from 1947 to 2008. Egbert Perry’s Integral Group purchased the former GM plant site clearing the way for the biggest ongoing redevelopment project in the region. DeKalb County and Doraville city officials are asking the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) to participate in a Tax Allocation District (TAD) to finance public infrastructure improvements.
I sat down with DeKalb Schools Board of Education Chair, Dr. Melvin Johnson, to discuss the redevelopment and financing the infrastructure improvements.

Mel, many people don’t understand what a TAD is.  It’s a way of financing selected construction projects.
How would the financing for the Doraville TAD work?  The school district would be capped at collecting about $954,000 annually for the 25 years.  With the construction and improvements, it is estimated that $235 million will go to the TAD.  Assuming successful development, after 25 years the school district will receive about $25 million annually.  It will take 9 years to break even.
If the school district doesn’t participate?  I believe there will be other development on the property.  It may result in plus or minus tax revenue.
What is your position on DCSD’s participation in the TAD?  I don’t believe tax dollars should be used to fund private projects.  Our focus is to educate the boys and girls.  Improved student achievement will drive economic development.
What is DCSD’s history with TADs?  To my knowledge, DCSD has never participated in a TAD.  If we participate now, I’m worried more developers will request that DCSD participate in more TADS.
Does accreditation play into this?  Yes.  One reason we were placed on probation is financial mismanagement.
Abatement is another funding tool.  The Hawks training center and Perimeter Summit in DeKalb were recently abated 100% leaving the county and school district with no property tax revenue.  I hope this property doesn’t get abated.

2 responses to “DeKalb Schools Board Chair Talks TAD

  1. MS_PublicEd

    This is probably in another article you published, but what is the amount of tax dollars DCSD receives right now for the same area? How does it compare to the capped $954,000? And if we agree to the TAD, can abatement override the TAD (like the Hawks area)? I’m still trying to figure out the negatives for this particular development, considering the success of the developer in past projects. It is being touted as another Atlantic Station. We need good growth with good development, that will help the schools AND county.

  2. Stan Jester

    MS_PublicEd, I should just interview you … you hit the big questions right on the head.
    Check out the graphic on What is a TAD?. The property taxes collected by the school district are capped at whatever they are collecting at the time the school district enters the TAD. I believe the school district is currently getting about $954,000 this year from the GM Plant site.

    Capped at $954,000? – If the school board signs onto the TAD, the school district would receive up to $954,000 annually in taxes from the site during the TAD period. As the property improves the owners of the GM Plan pays more in property taxes. That incremental amount goes into the TAD account used to pay for public infrastructure.
    Can abatement override the TAD? – With 100% abatement, no taxes are paid. There is no money going into an account to build public infrastructure. TADs are a preferred financial instrument because you can bond on the TAD in such a way to develop large scale public infrastructure in a way that abatement can’t (or at least is extremely difficult). Luke Howe, the Economic Development Director for the City of Doraville, talks about a list of those public infrastructure projects including $50+ million for the MARTA connection.
    Why Not the TAD
    Some people believe we will get the next Atlantic Station with or without using a TAD for public infrastructure. Some people are philosophically against public money being used this way. There are a few conspiracy theories floating out there.