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Monday, June 3, 2013 - 10:22am

State Supreme Court Rules On Beltline Controversy

In a unanimous opinion, Georgia's State Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower court's ruling allowing Fulton County to use school taxes for development projects. That clears a significant hurdle for the city of Atlanta's BeltLine project. The Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation had filed suit to stop the spending of school tax revenue on non-educational development projects.

The city of Atlanta plans to fund redevelopment projects in the BeltLine and Perry-Bolton "tax allocation districts" or TADs. The projects use borrowed funds that are repaid by the increases in property tax revenue-ad valorem taxes- that are generated by the improvements. The use of public funding helps entice private developers to invest.

In December of 2008, The Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation filed suit seeking an injunction to stop the city form using any school property tax revenues on TADs. The Foundation also wanted the court to require the school system to refund all "illegally" levied taxes to taxpayers, or spend the funds on educational purposes.

In a 28 page opinion released Monday, Justice David Nahmias wrote that the General Assembly amended the state constitution and voters later ratified that amendment authorizing counties, municipalities and local school boards to consent the the use of educational ad valorem property taxes for use in redevelopment projects.