F’ville wants legislative approval for redevelopment

Let the voters have their say on some specialized new uses for existing property taxes, says the Fayetteville City Council.

The council on Jan. 7 officially asked the Fayette County legislative delegation to push a local law for a referendum on three Tax Allocation District (TAD) projects identified in 2009. The Fayette County Commission and the Fayette County School Board have to approve specific TAD projects.

City Manager Joe Morton said Monday the city is moving forward with the request and has spoken with Rep. Virgil Fludd and Rep. Matt Ramsey about introducing the legislation.

“I think it has to go through Virgil’s committee,” Morton said.

If approved by the legislature, the referendum could be held later this year in July, September or November, Morton said in a Dec. 23 letter.

A TAD is a redevelopment tool that requires voter approval. A qualifying TAD area must be either blighted or distressed, deteriorating or one with inadequate infrastructure. The council in meetings last year identified three such commercial areas that could benefit from redevelopment activities.

The areas include the 692 Shopping Center on North Glynn Street, the Fayette Place Shopping Center on North Glynn and, potentially, the under-utilized area — all vacant land — of the Market Place at Lafayette that is a part of the Villages at Lafayette master plan.

The 692 center is the strip center behind Waffle House and includes the Longbranch Restaurant. Fayette Place includes La Hacienda restaurant, Fayette Sports and Wings & Things and Fayette Community Church.

Financing for a TAD comes as the tax base for the project area is frozen to form a base valuation, with property taxes used to pay eligible infrastructure-affiliated redevelopment costs. Bonds may also be issued to help finance projects. Subsequent annual tax revenues in the project area are used to fund the city’s portion of the redevelopment.

A TAD is not a new tax but rather a diversion of existing taxes in a specific geographic area to be used for redevelopment purposes. TAD property taxes can also be used to pay on any public or private bond that might be associated with the TAD project.

The specific TAD projects would require an okay from the county commission and school board because the property tax revenues generated in the TAD project area would stay there to help defray the costs of the infrastructure and other improvements designated in the project document.

The effort to redevelop the three areas was bolstered last year when the city was awarded a Livable Centers Initiative grant by the Atlanta Regional Commission to develop strategies that assist with proposed TAD development projects.