Heading TAD bit in wrong direction

Does the recent request for a T.A.D. to be passed by the voting district show a lack of true leadership?

As I have watched the political canvas of this town and county come alive with color, I can only assume that kindergarten is in session. It would appear that a lot of games are being played out, no leadership is at the helm, “buddy” partisanship is the norm and mud fest is in session.

So where are the fresh ideas that work for the best interest of the people of this city? The recent T.A.D. proposal comes off as well-thought-out and passionate, but if you look closer the citizens are the real loser here.

Does this proposal provide real long-term tax advantages for the citizens? Does this proposal create business development? Does this proposal benefit Fayetteville? To me the answer is no, but this isn’t my decision, it’s ours.

So, who benefits from this proposal? The proposal claims that once the renovation is completed the taxes are reassessed and the owner pays a higher rate. Okay, except there are four flaws with this thinking.

One is there is no timeline on the renovation that I see in this proposal. So a developer could place the building in “renovation status” and wait until they have a new buyer to unload the property on.

The second problem with this thinking is the assumption that these renovations will increase business opportunity. I like this idea of creating more business opportunity, but unfortunately this idea only creates revenue for the developer, and hopefully the city pocket book in the future.

As I drive around Fayetteville I see in every corner of our city vacant buildings that are in excellent condition, but EMPTY.

How does the council know that this proposal will get businesses to flock to Fayetteville? When businesses haven’t been filling all the vacant buildings that aren’t in need of renovation, what will cause them to fill these “newly renovated” buildings?

The third problem is the assumption that the renovation will be an improvement. The benefits of this proposal aren’t positioned to the innovator who puts his business here, but rather the property owner, who at the taxpayers’ expense gets to do a cheap renovation of his tired, dilapidated building that he recently purchased at a rock bottom price, only to sell it off to an unsuspecting buyer for a profit before the tax bill is due.

The fourth problem is that this IS a tax increase. When the property taxes on these properties are no longer collected, a shortage in revenue occurs. What is the proposal for this shortage?

There is none without a balance in spending (not proposed), thus the taxpayers must make up the shortfall.

You can argue about how the property taxes are just being delayed to be collected on a later date, but let us look at reality here. How many years will it take to make up the difference? Once the difference is made up how much revenue will it create?

Although the idea is to create more long-term revenue for the city, the council’s proposal doesn’t include a refund to the taxpayers who made up the difference during the time the taxes were not collected; it just becomes new money for the council to spend.

So how do we create real solutions that benefit the whole city? The recent city development proposals have been either antiquated and borrowed or unrealistic and borrowed or a suspected campaign payoff.

There have been ideas from allowing apartments in the upstairs of downtown buildings to putting “The Jetson’s” cable cars in the streets.

Although these ideas have some weight and merit of their own, which I don’t intend to debate here, NONE of the ideas promote growth or new businesses development.

If the idea is to promote growth, then let’s promote real growth. If the idea is to have a cleaner, neater, more efficient city, then let’s do this.

The problem here is that there is no real discernible direction for our city, no leader who has a vision, thus no plan for growth or stability.

Our property values have fallen and continue to fall. The schools are fighting and keeping secrets. Ethnic groups are fighting. And everyone is getting older while our youth are leaving.

So since they can’t come up with a real working solution, here are some ideas to get them going.

Pick a direction. Growth vs. development vs. structure — whichever way, just pick one.

I personally moved to Fayetteville from Roswell to get away from the growth and at the rate the city has been downsizing, structure is out of the picture. So how about development?

Either way, let’s pick a direction instead of throwing darts at the wall and hoping to hit something. In the words of Robert Frost, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know, what was I walling in or walling out.”

Why not start through collaboration? Why can’t local businessmen/women come together to allow for public input so that we work together and work smarter?

If anyone has gone to a city council meeting they know how futile it is to discuss an agenda item there. For one, they only give limited, non-transparent information about the proposals and if you question the proposal then you are spoken down to and given no straight answers while the mayor makes jokes.

Why not give tax benefits to job creators and business developers? If the council wants to give tax breaks then why not give them to current residents who open new businesses.

Instead of rewarding developers or property management companies that aren’t even in Fayetteville, how about rewarding residents who open new businesses and create new jobs here?

Why not free up business owners with less regulation? I can give credit to the council for lowering the ratio of alcohol to food sales for restaurants, so why not do more of this? Why not allow for temporary sales of beer and wine at outdoor events? Fayetteville is ready, as recently evident in our voting to allow alcohol sales on Sunday.

Why not target young families? The median age of Fayetteville is sharply increasing and young couples aren’t moving into town; they’re actually moving out. The evidence of this is in the reduced numbers of children attending school.

Last month the local paper published 20 pages of home foreclosures in Fayette. At this current rate Fayetteville will be a city that has an epidemic of empty homes that will either become ruins or cheap rentals. Who is navigating these waters? Who is leading us through this?

Why not develop more creative spaces. Why not help churches and business leaders develop more creative spaces that add culture and distinction to our city?

Why not get back to what we “did” best — education. Education has become one of the largest industries in America and many colleges and universities have sought to open satellite campuses. Technical schools have all but disappeared.

This county is looking at the possibility of five empty school buildings. Could one of these facilitate a satellite university campus or a technical school?

I keep waiting for a real idea that has some meat to it to be presented and it only seems like those in leadership only care about raising taxes and spending money on useless, worn-out ideas.

It’s time for us to come together collectively and create real direction and real solutions for our city that benefit our city, not special interest groups, individuals or the “buddies”/campaign contributors of politicians.

It’s time for the citizens of Fayetteville to make a decision and it’s time for the council to make a decision too.

I love this city but I believe we are at a very crucial moment in the history of this town. I don’t feel that the council is inept or unable to move our city in the right direction, but I do feel that it’s time to stop playing patrician games and unite with the people that you claim to represent.

Wade Williams

Fayetteville, Ga.

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